Former minister Eli Yishai says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised him a post in the next government after he withdrew his far-right Yachad slate from the race days before the April 9 election.
According to the report aired by Channel 13 news Tuesday, the deal would only be valid if the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party went on to garner at least eight seats, which it did.
Yishai, a former leader of uktra-Orthodox party Shas who was pushed out of the party’s leadership ad later formed the far-right Yachad, was seen as having little chance of getting into the Knesset, but could have taken thousands of votes from potential Netanyahu coalition partners had he ran.
According to the report, Netanyahu did not deny having made the pledge to Yishai, but may be considering reneging to mollify Shas chairman Aryeh Deri — a bitter rival who replaced Yishai as head of the ultra-Orthodox party.
Some two weeks before the April 9 elections, Yishai announced that his Yachad party would be bowing out of the race and that he would be supporting the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party.
Yachad had been polling well below the 3.25 percent electoral threshold and there had been mounting pressure on him to withdraw to avoid wasted right-wing votes.
Both UTJ and Shas went on to receive eight votes, making them likely senior coalition partners to Netanyahu.
It’s not clear what role Yishai would have in the government. As a Shas lawmaker, he served as labor minister and interior minister.
Coalition talks began this week with Likud officials meeting with Yisrael Beytenu representatives.
owever, no progress was made and the two sides said they’d schedule their next meeting at a later date. The remaining parties expected to join Netanyahu’s government will hold consultations with Likud next week after the Passover holiday.