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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oh my: Look who's likely to be the swing vote if the government decides to expel Jews from 'settlements'

Gil Hoffman reports that despite the Knesset being split 61-59 in favor of the Right, if a plan to expel Jews from 'settlements' comes to a vote, the Left believes that it will carry the day. The Shas party (and maybe United Torah Judaism as well) are eager for the chance to take revenge on Naftali Bennett for excluding them from the government.
“The haredi parties will be partners in the peace process,” Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna told the haredi radio station Kol Chai this week.
“A majority can be created in the Knesset for evacuating settlements.”
Mitzna said haredi MKs have told him they cannot wait to take revenge against Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett for blocking their parties from entering the coalition. He said he could also see a scenario whereby haredi parties join the current coalition at Bayit Yehudi’s expense when the diplomatic talks with the Palestinians progress.
“The priorities of the haredim have changed,” Mitzna said. “They say they aren’t in anyone’s pocket anymore. They know the Right has always betrayed them.”
I would not believe everything Mitzna says, but it is known that the Haredim were furious at being excluded from the coalition and they (correctly) place the blame for that on the deal between Bennett and Yair Lapid. While they expected that kind of behavior from Lapid, they did not expect it from Bennett, and that's why most of the fury is directed at him and his party (that's also playing out in the current mayoral campaign in Beit Shemesh by the way).

But with respect to Shas, there's another aspect that makes this story plausible. Aryeh Deri (pictured at top), who returned to the party in the last election after a lengthy suspension due to a bribery conviction, has always been a Leftist at heart, and he now has the ear of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef much more closely than does the more Right-leaning Eli Yishai. It's more than plausible that Deri will convince Rav Yosef to order Shas' MK's to vote in favor of an expulsion.

The Right is trying to hold on to the Haredi vote.
The Right also understands the importance of the haredim and their votes in the Knesset. Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said Wednesday that he would advance building projects for the haredi sector not only in Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit on the Green Line but also in Tel Zion, a haredi neighborhood of the Kochav Ya’acov settlement north of Jerusalem that is not considered part of a settlement bloc.
“It is wrong to look at haredim as second-class citizens,” Ariel said. “They deserve building, too.”
But not, apparently, the same funding for their yeshivoth and schools and other educational institutions that the rest of the country gets, and certainly not special concessions from the army. At least in the view of Ariel and his party. While the Haredim have the advantage that the vast majority of their constituents who live in Judea and Samaria live along the green line, something tells me that their votes won't be sold for housing starts that may never be completed. But they might be sold for something better than has been offered to them on the 'sharing the burden' front.

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