Shas backs away from its bill, says it will resume voting with coalition

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri with Israeli minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir during a Shas party meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri with Israeli minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir during a Shas party meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Shas will return to vote with the coalition after the Otzma Yehudit party tanked an amendment to the Religious Services Law, sparking a dispute between the two coalition factions.

In a statement, the ultra-Orthodox Shas says it tried to pass the bill “to boost the status of the rabbis in Israel who sacrifice their lives in this period” and “to improve the conditions of employees at religious councils.”

“Astonishingly, [National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir] chose to overturn the law and create an unnecessary rift in the right during a war due to political considerations,” the statement reads.

“As such, Shas shows responsibility and will not create a crisis at this moment that may harm the national efforts for a hostage deal, and therefore will vote together with the coalition. The Shas faction will continue to do everything to protect the Jewish identity of the State of Israel,” it says.

Additionally, Otzma Yehudit asserts that the bill will only be approved if Ben Gvir is allowed to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closed forum for managing the war, referring to small ad hoc consultations the premier holds with the defense minister and relevant officials regarding key decisions on the war.

“Just yesterday it was proven, with the abandonment of security in the north, how necessary the presence of Minister Ben Gvir is in the forum for managing the war,” the party says in a statement, referring to the deaths of two civilians during a Hezbollah rocket barrage on the Golan Heights.

“Until this happens, Otzma Yehudit will continue to disrupt the work of the coalition. At the same time, regarding the opposition’s votes today, Otzma Yehudit will not let the opposition win and pass laws and will vote against the laws that the opposition will propose,” it says.

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