Shas strongman Aryeh Deri on Wednesday scorned the news of a tentative coalition deal and said the new Haredi-less government would harm the lower classes and the Jewish nature of the state.
Six weeks of negotiations approached a successful conclusion earlier in the evening, when Likud finally ceded the Education Ministry to Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, and Lapid reportedly accepted the other terms of Likud’s compromise offer. The expected 68-seat government will comprise Likud-Beytenu, Yesh Atid, Jewish Home, and Hatnua.
Deri charged in an interview that Prime Minister Benjamin 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, who’s Number 2 in Shas, said that 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 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.”
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