Shas MK: Government Will be Formed, Despite Misgivings

April 19, 2015  

Shas MK Yaakov Margi is very optimistic that things will work out with all of the Likud’s “natural partners,” including his party, Jewish Home, and Yisrael Beytenu. “Anyone who wants a national government will have to compromise, and I think everyone will,” Margi told Arutz Sheva in an interview Sunday. “Otherwise they are likely to get a national unity government with Labor leaders Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni.”

According to a report on Israel Radio Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is close to signing a coalition deal with several of his potential government parties, including Shas and Kulanu. Margi said that as far as he knew, Shas would be given the Interior and Religious Affairs Ministries, although, as with anything in politics, he admitted that this was subject to change.

Jewish Home has also expressed strong interest in the Religious Affairs Ministry, to the extent that MK Ayelet Shaked called it a “make or break” issue for the party. Margi believes, however, that the rhetoric does not necessarily represent the reality. “I haven’t heard about it being discussed in the negotiations, at least to that extent. I think Jewish Home has to decide if they want to bring about a national unity government for the sake of the Religious Affairs Ministry. If this is what they want, then that is what will happen.”

Margi was also not “impressed” with comments from sources in Yisrael Beytenu, especially regarding reducing the penalties for hareidi yeshiva students who do not serve in the IDF, promises to restore child support payments to their 2013, and other matters that Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to in order to tempt Shas and fellow haredi party United Torah Judaism (UTJ) to join the coalition.

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman is a very good speechmaker, but we remember than in the last government he was leaning towards the left, while in the month before the election he suddenly made a death penalty for terrorists his party’s central demand,” said Margi. “Once he gets the Foreign Ministry, as he is set to receive, according to reports, he will forget about all his ‘declarations’ that he won’t join the government if Netanyahu does not pull back from his promises to haredi parties.”

Netanyahu has yet to close a deal with Jewish Home. He is expected to offer Jewish Home more portfolios during this term – with the Agriculture Ministry, the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the Economics Ministry, and at least one other unnamed portfolio on the line, according to reports Friday – but to specifically shy chairman Naftali Bennett away from central and influential positions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to ask President Reuven Rivlin for an extension on coalition talks, Channel 10 reports Saturday night, after progress has been said to be progressing too slowly to meet the usual deadline. Netanyahu has not entirely ruled out a unity government with Labor, but in comments over the weekend, both Herzog and Livni indicated that they were not interested in a unity government.

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