Uri Maklev
Uri Maklev Isaac Harari, Knesset spokesperson

MK Uri Maklev from the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Party commented on the political situation ahead of the elections and on the question of the haredim sitting in a coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz or Yair Lapid.

In an interview with journalist Yuval Karni in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, Maklev responded to Shas chairman Aryeh Deri's concerns that UTJ would go with Gantz and not with Netanyahu, saying, "I know what this stems from: Rumors that are started and it's hard to stop them. Before the government fell apart, [UTJ chairman Moshe] Gafni made efforts to form another government in the Knesset so as not to go to elections."

"Gafni is perhaps the only one whose door was open to everyone who belonged to the other bloc. Gafni also did not say at the time whether Netanyahu would be the leader [of the alternative government] or not. From here it unfolded that we are going with Gantz. But Gafni is also experienced enough to know that there is no possibility of being in a government in which the Likud is not one of the components."

"There is no need to think about things that you don't need to think about," Maklev said when asked what UTJ would do if Netanyahu does not have 61 MKs to form a government. "I don't want to think about it. Do you ask someone who is going to a wedding, 'Tell me what will happen if it doesn't work out?'"

To the question of whether Gantz deserves to be Prime Minister, he answered, "We have never ruled out Gantz. Not only is he worthy, we also went with him. But if you ask who I see first - then it’s Netanyahu before Gantz. Gantz is worthy in my eyes, but I think Netanyahu is more deserving. Gantz, Lapid, Merav Michaeli and Naftali Bennett together are not equal to Netanyahu's ability, experience and international recognition."

Will the haredim sit with Lapid in the government? "I don't think it's relevant at the moment, because it's basically either Lapid or Netanyahu. We're not in the business of disqualification. We don't want to put ourselves at the center of the dispute between Netanyahu and Lapid. It's time for you to quarrel for yourselves for once. Stop putting the haredim all the time as the victims of your disputes. We absolutely support Netanyahu."

Maklev commented on the phenomenon of support for Itamar Ben Gvir among young haredim and said, "There is no phenomenon. There may be some young people, but not a phenomenon, and definitely not in critical numbers. However, I am not underestimating anything. In the run-up to the elections, we will reinforce the message that for us, elections are a framework. Ben Gvir’s way is not our way."