Likud minister warns haredi MKs: You will get Lapid elected PM

August 5, 2016  

Efforts by Shas and United Torah Judaism to shutdown supermarkets on Shabbat could lead to a secular backlash that may propel Yair Lapid to the premiership, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) warned earlier this week.

Levin’s comments, which were publicized by NRG on Friday, came in the midst of an effort by the haredi factions to transfer responsibility for enforcing the country’s Shabbat law, which bans the operation of most businesses during the traditional Jewish day of rest, to the Interior Ministry.

Such a move would give the Interior Ministry, now under the authority of Shas chief and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the power to expand enforcement of the law, which has hitherto been less than comprehensive.

During a meeting of coalition party chiefs on Sunday, however, Levin warned leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism that their efforts were likely to backfire.

Shutting down supermarkets countrywide on Shabbat, he said, would spark a secular backlash and could catapult Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid to an electoral victory, enabling him to not only overturn the changes regarding the Shabbat Law, but radically alter the Status Quo on religion and state.

“If we shut down the supermarkets on Shabbat you’ll be giving Lapid 30 mandates [in the next election]. They will say that this is a radical haredi government.”

“They’ll say that you’re attacking seculars. We’ll find ourselves with a government like the previous administration,” referring to 33rd Israeli government, which included Yair Lapid and was noted for passing a number of bills fiercely opposed by the haredi factions.

“You cannot give the other side a [political] weapon.”

“In this case you need to find a solution that does not create the feeling that one segment of the population is forcing itself on another. The results of this kind of decision would be 30 mandates for Yair Lapid. Is that what you want?”

But the haredi political leadership appeared, according to Kam, to be unfazed by Levin’s comments.

“It will also bring 30 mandates to the haredi parties,” the haredi faction leaders reportedly said in response.

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