Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman is slated to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday to discuss the next coalition.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov, meanwhile, said yesterday that if Netanyahu won’t back away from promises that he made to ultra-Orthodox parties, then Yisrael Beytenu will stay out of the government.
“Netanyahu prefers a unity government without us, without Jewish Home and without [Tzipi] Livni,” Ilatov was quoted by Ynet as saying. He was speaking at a meeting in Netanya with party activists and according to the news website, harshly criticized Netanyahu’s conduct in the negotiations.
Ilatov said, “The bad blood between [Netanyahu and Livni] leads to a situation where he would even be willing to rotate with [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog in the premiership so long as Tzipi will not be part of that unity government.”
“It is obvious that those pushing for a unity government are [Shas leader Aryeh] Deri, [and UTJ MKs Ya’acov] Liztman [and Moshe] Gafni,” Ilatov said, claiming that ultra-Orthodox parties were the main engines pushing for a unity coalition. “It was obvious to them that [under a unity government] it would be easier for the Haredim to receive millions of shekels from the treasury and cancel legislation on sharing the [military draft] burden, as well as government decisions on conversion to Judaism. They fear Yisrael Beytenu positions on every issue that relates to religion and state and that’s why Deri worked overtime to mediate between Bibi and Herzog,” charged Ilatov.
The MK, who is the party’s point man on coalition negotiations, said, “There is no problem between Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home and there is no argument on the foreign affairs portfolio. They should stop talking nonsense. The real problem with Jewish Home is the third portfolio [they demand] for Ayelet Shaked, everything else is spin.”
Ilatov said his party will not suffice with the foreign affairs portfolio (party leader Avigdor Liberman is currently serving as foreign minister). “Those who think they can buy us with foreign affairs are wrong. We will not start discussing ministries with Likud until we receive all the information on agreements [Netanyahu] made with Shas and United Torah Judaism. It cannot be possible that we will agree to cancel initiatives on conversion that were already confirmed, because of Netanyahu’s commitments to the Haredim.”
Yisrael Beytenu, traditionally relying heavily on the votes of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom have difficulties marrying because Israel’s chief rabbinate does not recognize them as Jewish, made significant efforts to modify conversion laws during the past government. “Our young folks are willing to die in the army, but they will not be considered Jewish? There’s no way we will agree to any change to the law of sharing the [military draft] burden or to the law of marriage registration that we passed in the previous Knesset and which the Haredim now want to cancel.”
Ilatov claimed Netanyahu’s agreements with ultra-Orthodox parties include “billions” in funding for Torah studies and the ultra-Orthodox separate education system.