Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich on Thursday wished the new government luck, emphasizing, nevertheless, that she would lead a true opposition that would fight any attempt to hurt Israeli citizens, from all parts of society.
The Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties reached agreement in principle with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu faction Wednesday night, paving the way to form Israel’s next government — and the country’s next opposition.
“We go with pride and a sense of mission to represent the nation from the opposition,” Yachimovich wrote on her Facebook page. Labor kept its word and “refused to join the government in return for ministerial positions and honors” that didn’t allow for a change of direction from Netanyahu’s right-wing stance on economic issues, she told her followers.
Yachimovich said she was committed to leading “a true opposition that would look out for all Israeli citizens, regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender, poverty or wealth.” Her party will support any step, “social, economical, diplomatic or civil,” taken by the government for the good of the state and the people, she promised.
The success of the government is the success of the country, Yachimovich wrote on Facebook, reiterating what she had earlier said in an interview with Army Radio. “I honestly wish them luck, from my heart,” she told the station.
A proper opposition is essential for a healthy democracy, Yachimovich pointed out, saying her Labor Party would do all it could to provide one.
Outgoing Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio he believed Yachimovich was worthy of leading the opposition, hinting that his Shas party would support her bid for the position.
On Wednesday Shas No. 2 Aryeh Deri scorned the news of a tentative coalition deal and said the new Haredi-less government would harm the lower classes.
Deri charged in an interview that Netanyahu never really engaged the 11-seat Shas party in negotiations. “They used us” as a foil to bring Yesh Atid into the government, he said.
“This government is going to represent the bourgeoisie and middle class” to the detriment of the lower classes, he told Channel 2 news, adding that a Netanyahu government without ultra-Orthodox parties would end up harming the Jewish character of the state.
Deri said his party would take part in a 52-seat-strong, Labor Party-led opposition, whose first mission would be to bring down the government.
“Starting tomorrow we’ll be a combative opposition,” he said. “We have 50 seats in the opposition representing the lower class.”
Deri’s interview, in which he railed against the prospective government for several minutes, was cut short by the announcement of white smoke rising from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel in Rome — signaling the election of a new pope.
The leader of Shas, outgoing Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who at times appeared to take a back seat to Deri during the election campaign, repeated the accusation that Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett had “boycotted” his party and the United Torah Judaism party.
Lapid and Bennett, despite promising to represent a “new politics,” ultimately proved that they stand for “political extortion” and demanded a “government without the ultra-Orthodox,” he said. “The ultra-Orthodox are not a group that exists alongside Israeli society; they are a part of it, just like the kibbutzniks, the secular, the immigrants, and the other groups in society.”
Netanyahu, he claimed in a Facebook post, will be unable to “lead the country with its multitude of groups while he is held captive by the new axis of whim and hatred” — Lapid and Bennett.
Addressing Netanyahu’s new partners directly, Yishai added, “I’m sorry that you don’t have anything in common other than your hatred of others. You are a prime example, at present and historically, of what brothers don’t do to one another.”