Over the next few weeks the news coming out of Israel about the makeup and composition about the faces and policies of the new ruling coalition government will have us being jerked and juddered in an assortment of directions.
And these are the questions. Will the religious parties like Shas and United Torah Judaism be included or excluded from the governing coalition? Will Nafatali Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi party—representing the interests of the religious Zionist community be likewise included or not? Can all the kipa wearers in all three of these parties unite in some fashion and present Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a united religious front?
What about Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and their shocking accrual of 19 Knesset seats that includes two Orthodox Rabbi’s? Lapid’s political platform was focused primarily on balancing the fashion in which Israel’s citizens contribute to the continuing development of society in the country in general. To Lapid this primarily means redefining the relationship between the Yeshiva oriented communities, the Chareidim and their obligations to serve the country in the IDF or through alternate forms of national service.
The guessing game goes on daily and may go one for weeks. The 5TJT, however, has connected with a personality who is not a Knesset Member but has intimate knowledge of the ongoing process. This person is involved in the coalition talks and negotiations but cannot be identified because they are not authorized and this point to talk about the intense negotiations that are taking place daily.
So can the religious parties indeed work together or not? And if yes how and if not—what are the differences? There are simple answers to those questions. What needs to pointed out, however, at this point in time is that certain personal differences between elected officials have to be dealt with before even those fundamental questions can be addressed.
Firstly there are sore personal feelings between Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu and HaBayit’s Naftali Bennett. Mr. Bennet once served as Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff and is purported to have had a run in and exchange of words with Mrs. Netanyahu at one point. According to our source Bennett once said to Sara: “How about getting out of my face and letting me do my work.” Mrs. Netanyahu was incensed at being spoken to that way and it is reportedly she who is adamantly opposed to Bennett’s party being invited to join a Likud and Netanyahu led coalition.
On another political front while Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid was once adamant about not wanting to serve in a government coalition with Shas he has now softened his position on that issue. Lapid continues at present to insist that if Shas does sign on to the coalition that party co-leader, Arye Deri not be awarded a ministerial portfolio. Shas is insisting that both Deri and Eli Yeshai receive ministry portfolios if they join the coalition.
Lapid objects to Deri serving as a minister because he was convicted of a crime (bribery) and served time in jail. But that may not be the real issue. The point of contention between Yesh Atid, Shas and UTJ is the contentious dispute about exemptions from national service for Yeshiva students or revamping the system where everyone becomes eligible to serve in some capacity that needs to be negotiated.
Having garnered 19 Knesset seats and being the leader of Israel’s second largest political party, Lapid is in the best position to make demands and set conditions for forming a coalition. It has been reported that Lapid is still deciding whether he wants to be Foreign Minister or Finance Minister in the next government. Certainly it would probably serve the Lapid agenda if he were appointed as head of the powerful Finance Ministry as he has an extensive agenda that he would like to see implemented on the matter pf social issues in Israeli society.