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Deri lashes out at PM’s ‘bourgeois government’

Shas leader accuses Netanyahu of ostracizing the ultra-Orthodox community and harming the poor

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Aryeh Deri in the Knesset (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Aryeh Deri in the Knesset (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Shas leader Aryeh Deri castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday for keeping the ultra-Orthodox out of coalition talks, and ultimately out of the emerging coalition, saying Netanyahu had failed to take the country’s less fortunate and poverty-stricken citizens into consideration.

The attack was the latest by the ultra-Orthodox against the prime minister for pushing the Haredi parties into the opposition at the behest of likely coalition partners.

“We see here before us the establishment of a bourgeois government, which for the first time consists entirely of members of the upper class… a government whose leaders do not know the meaning of hardship. And as if that were not enough, they are also the ones that are supposed to cut the flesh, to order the difficult cuts whose immediate casualties will be the poor. They are the ones who unfortunately have to determine policies,” Deri wrote on his Facebook wall.

The Shas party has traditionally represented the interests of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox, many of whom have large families and fall below the poverty line, and depend on government help to feed and shelter their families.

Though Netanyahu was reportedly forced to push the ultra-Orthodox out as a precondition for bringing the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties in, Deri lashed out at the prime minister, saying he was also responsible for the situation that saw the ultra-Orthodox heading for the opposition.

“You cannot wash your hands of this,” Deri warned Netanyahu. “I have no doubt that history will harshly judge the person who gave his hand to this condition. True, there are plenty of excuses: They forced you to say it… you even bothered to condemn the steps… but those excuses do not stand the stringent test of history,” Deri said.

He added that his constituency would be unrepresented in the government, which would be focused on providing “comfort” to Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid.

“We are witnessing an absurd situation where it is possible to ban an entire community, a situation in which legitimate political movements in Israel can declare openly that two million civilians in Israel are ostracized, just because that is what their balance of comfort requires,” continued Deri.

Deri makes up one-third of Shas’s leading triumvirate, which also includes Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Housing Minister Ariel Atias.

On Saturday night, Yishai wrote on Facebook that a coalition agreement without his ultra-Orthodox party was a fait accompli, and that his party’s exclusion from the government was a bitter moment for the state of Israel.

“The 2013 elections will be remembered as the day in which the entire public shunned the traditional and ultra-Orthodox Jews because of their beliefs and views,” Yishai wrote. “Kind words cannot sweeten the conflict and the deep rift that was created during the present period, but it will be remembered for many years to come.”

“With raised heads and with pride we will go into the opposition,” he said.

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