Shifting Electoral Landscape May Favor Chareidi Parties

YERUSHALAYIM -

Whereas only a few weeks ago, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was declaring that in the next government, the Housing and Interior Ministries would be taken out of the hands of Shas and transferred to Likud-Beiteinu, it now appears that Lieberman may not be in a position to dictate ministerial assignments.

The rapidly shifting Israeli electoral landscape may in fact favor the chareidi parties and others, putting Netanyahu and Lieberman at an unexpected disadvantage.

As political columnist M. Carmeli pointed out in Friday’s Hamodia (Hebrew edition), if current poll predictions are borne out, the chareidi parties could be in a strong negotiating position come January 22. For example, if as forecast, Jewish Home gets 15 seats, Shas 13 and UTJ 6, that would create the possibility, if only for negotiating purposes, of a bloc larger than Likud-Beiteinu and coalition-making vistas that might include Labor or Livni.

Editorials in the Hebrew editions of Hamodia and Yated Ne’eman took Netanyahu-Lieberman to task for their high-handed treatment of their present chareidi coalition partners, ready to dispense with them as soon as the elections confirm their poll ratings.

But now, warned Yated, the prospect of a governing coalition of center-left and chareidi parties excluding Likud-Beitienu was a possible outcome.

“Such a coalition will not hurt us because it needs us… The level of incitement (against chareidim) will also subside — as it always does when the Left-Center rules.

“The Likud doesn’t know how to rule… Let the Likud-Beiteinu sit in the opposition and learn that it does not own the government,” the editorial said.

Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism announced an emergency mass meeting on Thursday of this week at Binyamei Haumah, the large auditorium in central Yerushalayim. Gedolei Yisrael are scheduled to appear, in a concerted effort to mobilize support for UTJ candidates in what many see as a historic election. The threatened draft of yeshivah students, as well as severe budget cutbacks, head the agenda.