Haredi MK aims to oust Liberman in next Knesset

On the heels of lawmaker Avigdor Liberman’s attack on religious coercion, ultra-Orthodox MK Moshe Gafni says he opposes running the state according to religious law.

By World Israel News Staff

A leading Haredi member of Knesset has gone on the offensive against MK Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, whose fight for legislation for greater Haredi recruitment in the military ultimately resulted in the calling of another parliamentary election in September, just five months after the previous one.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that he [Liberman] does not pass the threshold, that he is not elected,” said MK Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) bloc, referring to the 3.25 percent of the vote required to enter the Knesset.

“If he is elected,” said Gafni, “he should not be the deciding factor.”

Gafni made the comments, according to Kan public television, at a closed party gathering which took place in Haifa.

According to the report, Gafni urged UTJ supporters to come out and vote on the next election day, September 17, as a way of ensuring that Yisrael Beytenu’s percentage would be lower.

Because of the army conscription controversy, among other issues, Liberman refused to join the government coalition that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to set up following the April 9 election.

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With Yisrael Beytenu, Netanyahu would have achieved a 65-member majority, including the Haredi factions, in the 120-seat Knesset; without Liberman’s party, the coalition consisted of only 60 members.

Liberman, a former senior aide to Netanyahu who served as defense minister in the previous government, nearly missed the threshold in the April ballot. Gafni’s hope to remove Yisrael Beytenu from the Knesset in the September vote is based on the premise that it won’t take a much worse showing by Liberman’s party in the next election to push it under the minimum percentage.

UTJ and Shas, another Haredi party, have a combined 16 seats in the current short-lived Knesset.

Liberman has complained of what he views as religious coercion imposed on the government by the Haredi factions. He has stated that he respects Jewish tradition but opposes Israel as a theocracy.

Speaking in the Knesset on Tuesday, Gafni said that he opposes running the Jewish state according to “halacha,” Jewish religious law.

“If you propose a state of halacha, I will object,” he said.