Incoming Deputy Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) on Tuesday said that his party would welcome the expansion of the government to more than 61 MKs - unless it is Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
“It is obvious that we need to strengthen the government. It is hard to do things with only 61. Those who want to join - are welcome. I do not stand in the way of anyone...But Yair Lapid I definitely disagree [to have him join],” he told the haredi radio station Kol Barama.
"With Tzipi Livni we were prepared at that time to join the government,” Litzman continued, referring to 2008 when Livni was elected chair of the Kadima party but failed to form a coalition and elections were called. “She complicated matters by refusing to provide a letter about not discussing [splitting] Jerusalem. If she enters the coalition she will have to support that. Anyone who joins - joins the existing coalition. He would have to agree with everything they agreed to with us, with United Torah Judaism.”
Asked about the difference between Livni and Lapid, Litzman replied, "The difference between Lapid and Tzipi Livni is that not everyone loves Israel, but hatred of haredim is Lapid’s flagship. He who did everything he could for two years to destroy the haredim and their families, he who slaps me in the face twice - I'm not his friend."
Asked whether there is a scenario in which he would agree to sit with Lapid in the same government, he replied, "Absolutely. There is an answer: for him to sit a full term in the opposition and support us on everything - and then the next term everything is open."
Litzman’s comments are in line with previous remarks made by United Torah Judaism members, who have expressed support for a unity government but have also voiced their strong opposition to having Lapid join.
During the election campaign, Litzman refused to take part in a televised debate because doing so would “give Yair Lapid the opportunity to continue his incitement against the haredim as he always does, as a substitute for a discussion of his failure in government”.
Lapid, for his part, has criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over his agreement with United Torah Judaism, specifically the part which stipulates that child benefits and stipends for yeshivas, which were slashed when Lapid was Finance Minister, will be brought back to their previous levels.