In an interview Friday, United Torah Judaism MK and head of the Knesset Finance Committee Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that after the next election, his party would join only a government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Gedolei Torah are the ones who sent us to the Knesset and they have ruled that we sit in a coalition only with right-wing parties. We have not veered from this in the past, nor will we in the future. We will ally ourselves in the upcoming elections only with the right, with the Likud, with Netanyahu,” he told the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne’eman.
At issue was a meeting Rabbi Gafni had last week with MK Avi Nissenkorn of Blue and White, the former head of the Histadrut.
The meeting resulted in considerable media buzz that a deal between UTJ and Blue and White was in the works, but Rabbi Gafni called those reports “ridiculous. They wrote that I met with Nissenkorn and turned it into a major speculation that we were working out a deal with them. That is completely incorrect. Of course I met with him, I meet with a lot of people as part of my role in the Knesset. That is why I am in the Knesset. But those who sent me to the Knesset, Gedolei Yisrael, also set who our coalition partners need to be.”
Shas MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher also told the newspaper that his meeting with Blue and White head Benny Gantz did not have any political implications. “We meet with members of all parties, and I have worked with Gantz in the past. I meet with everyone, except for those who are prejudiced against chareidim. I have no problem with Gantz, but his partnership with Yair Lapid means we cannot join a coalition headed by him. We have cast our lot with Netanyahu and with the right – we said this in the past and we say it regarding the future. With that, we will continue to meet with others, and this has no connection to our joining a Netanyahu-led government,” he said.
Gabi Ashkenazi, former IDF Chief of Staff and among the leadership of Blue and White, said Wednesday that his party could set up a government after the next election – with the help of chareidi parties. We can talk with everyone. The chareidim are not the ‘property’ of any politician, and neither is Avigdor Liberman.” In general, he said, “we would have no problem with chareidim in the coalition. We are talking to everyone and we would have no problem setting up our own bloc.”