Ultra-Orthodox MK furious at Liberman’s anti-religious campaign, no chance of compromise

MK Moshe Gafni hits back at suggestion made by New Right party heads that ultra-Orthodox back off their demands to get Israel Beiteinu into a right-wing coalition.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Representatives of an ultra-Orthodox party rejected the suggestion made by New Right leaders on Sunday that they must compromise on their religious beliefs to enable the formation of a right-wing government.

Speaking on Army Radio, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) MK Moshe Gafni said, “I am willing to compromise on [political] positions, not on the most sensitive issues. Why should [New Right party head Ayelet] Shaked not compromise in order to bring [far-left] Meretz to the coalition? After all, there is a need for unity.”

Gafni was responding to an earlier Shaked interview on the Army channel, in which she said that another round of elections would hurt the Israeli right-wing, evidenced by the fact that in the April elections the Likud led a bloc of 61 MKs without Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, while in the September vote the number had dropped to 55.

“There are two reasonable possibilities,” the former justice minister had said. “One – a unity government, with Netanyahu and Gantz having to agree on who will be prime minister first, or two, Liberman will join the right-wing bloc and bring fantastic achievements to his public, and the haredim will have to compromise.”

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Liberman has insisted since the September elections that there could only be a unity government of Likud, Blue and White, and his own party, with the haredim cut out of the government. Liberman has also vowed to pass a string of laws that would upend the religious status quo in Israel. This is anethema to the religious parties.

UTJ colleague Uri Maklev pointed out that it was hypocritical to demand that only the ultra-Orthodox wing of the 55-member bloc compromise in order to help Liberman climb rejoin the right-wing government he had broken up by abandoning it almost two years ago.

“Why are they demanding of us what they do not demand of themselves?” he asked, Arutz 7 reports. “Will they meet the [left-wing] Democratic Union’s demands?”

Religious principles are far more critical than political ones, he said.

“We insist on our demands, which are the foundations of the Jewish people. Things that are the basis and principles of the Jewish people. To come and say that one can be flexible on this is wrong and improper, and serves no purpose other than to divert the discussion in the direction of the haredi public.”

Gafni, who is chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, happens to agree with Shaked that a third round of elections would not be good for the country, but he called it “an economic disaster,” rather than a political one. In his opinion, the blame belongs mainly on Liberman’s shoulders, and on the media that is “afraid” to confront him.

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“For an entire year Liberman has gone neither to the left nor to the right,” he said in the interview. “He sits on the fence and in the meantime the state is disabled. It is a pity that the media is afraid to talk about this man named Liberman because we’re in this mess because of him.”