Nissan Slomiansky
Nissan Slomiansky Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Prospective members of Binyamin Netanyahu's new coalition continued jockeying for position Wednesday, with Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky telling Arutz Sheva that the Prime Minister owes Religious Zionist voters, and particularly Jewish Home voters, a great deal.

“Our people are very idealistic and they responded to the plaintive cry from Netanyahu that they must vote for him in order to prevent the rise of a leftist government. They left their home political party and roamed to the Likud, to ensure that he would be chosen to form the next government.”

Did Netanyahu deserve their votes? Not necessarily, said Slomiansky. “This was a Prime Minister who advocates for the 'two-state solution,' who imposed a lengthy building freeze in Judea and Samaria, who does things a left-wing prime minister would never dare to do. They ran after him like sheep, and now he feels he can do whatever he wants with them.”

One of those “things,” Slomiansky and other Jewish Home officials fear, is that Netanyahu will work out deals with other parties that might be tempted to join a government led by Zionist Union/Labor head Yitzchak Herzog – basically, all other potential coalition partners for the Likud – and leave the negotiations with Jewish Home for the end, with the party getting the “leftovers” in coalition discussions. “If it were me, I would reward the people who are loyal to me, but apparently Netanyahu operates differently,” he said. “He has already made promises to the haredi parties, but he leaves us to the end, because he thinks we have no choice.”

While Jewish Home would not join a Herzog-led coalition, there is no rule that says it has to join a Netanyahu government either, said Slomiansky. “If Netanyahu doesn't want us, we can remain in the opposition, so Netanyahu will not be able to form a coalition at all. We will not negotiate from a position of weakness, as if we have no choice. We do have a choice, and if they want to play hardball, we can too.”

Slomiansky is chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, a position that MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) has his eye on. Loss of this position, he said, would be “very problematic for communities in Judea and Samaria and to the institutions of Religious Zionism. We need to struggle to retain this position, only thus will we be able to ensure the financial health of schools, yeshivas, and community groups,” he added.

Earlier, MK Yariv Levin said in an interview with Army Radio said that Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett would be a “senior minister” in the new government, but that the Likud did not “owe” Jewish Home anything.

Responding to comments by MK Ayelet Shaked, who said that Jewish Home had helped Likud win the elections, at great sacrifice to itself, to the extent that it “donated its limbs” to ensure that Netanyahu and not Zionist Union/Labor head Yitzchak Herzog would form the government, Levin said “these are strange claims. Each party does its best to persuade voters to choose it, and we were able to convince voters to the extent that we received 30 seats.”