Interior Minister Eli Yishai (left) with recently reinstated Shas leader Aryeh Deri (center) and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias.

Israel Hayom received a letter signed by a number of high-ranking rabbis in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political parties stating their intention to create a religious bloc for political leverage.

The letter described their intention that all of the ultra-religious parties band together, either for inclusion in the next coalition, or remaining outside as an opposition unit.

The letter called on the parties to “establish a joint team among the religious and haredi parties to preserve the Jewish character of the coalition after the election through negotiations. Similarly, we support the initiative that the religious and haredi parties either agree to join the government together, or refrain from joining the coalition together.”

Interior Minister Eli Yishai (left) with recently reinstated Shas leader Aryeh Deri (center) and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias.

Among the signatories on the letter are Rabbi Moshe Maya, a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Meir Mazoz, also associated with Shas, as well as a number of leaders in the religious Zionist movement, including Rabbis Shmuel Eliyahu and Joseph Bagad.

Chairman of the Lobby for Jewish Values, Ofer Cohen, who initiated the letter, stated, “The establishment of a secular government without any haredi presence will lead to increased polarization in society and unjustified hatred.”

Meanwhile, the triad of Shas leaders, Aryeh Deri, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Housing MInister Ariel Atias sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offering a pact to preserve the Jewish character of the state. The letter included another letter for Netanyahu to sign that would prove to them and voters that he is committed to the preservation of Israel’s Jewish character.

The Shas letter presented two main reasons for the initiative. One motive was Likud’s intimate connection to Yisrael Beytenu in the current elections which, according to the Shas leaders, has “the opposite values” of the Likud. The second reason is recent political developments on the Central-Left political bloc. The letter claims that “there are now signs that a Left coalition is forming, in which the Likud would be lead by the Lapid-Livni duo.”

The pact Shas offers Netanyahu is based on four central principles: maintaining the status quo in matters of religion and state; preventing legislation to allow quick conversions not in line with Halachah (Jewish law); preventing a new law to allow civil marriage; and preventing any operation of public transportation on Shabbat.

The Shas leaders issued a statement saying, “We demand that the prime minister clarify his position before the elections.”


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