Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef stepped up his attack on popular new politician Yair Lapid Saturday, calling the Yesh Atid head “‘a wicked yeshiva hater.”
Yesh Atid has made ultra-Orthodox conscription into the army a centerpiece demand in coalition talks, placing it at odds with Shas, which draws much of its voter support from the Haredi community.
In his weekly sermon Saturday, Yosef, 93, struck out at Lapid, using an allegorical tale ahead of the Jewish holiday of Purim about a king and his adviser.
“Every time he would come to the king, they would talk about security, about the coalition and the opposition,” he said. “Everyone would be discussed between them and he would give him advice on how to act: ‘Don’t go with Lapid. He is wicked, he hates yeshivas.’
The charge comes days after Shas launched a blitz against Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett, with the party’s mouthpiece newspaper printing an editorial calling the national religious party “a little Reform-ish, a little gentile,” and making fun of the small size of Bennett’s skullcap.
Lapid and Bennett have been reported to partner up in coalition talks with Benjamin Netanyahu, a move which may leave Shas and fellow religious party United Torah Judaism in the opposition.
After its attack, Shas was quick to try to smooth things over with Jewish Home last week, amid a reports that the party would try to sell itself as an alternative to Lapid’s centrist and mostly secular faction.