The announced agreement between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu is bad for Torah Jewry in Eretz Yisrael. The agreement gives a major boost to the parties involved and ensures Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman a senior post in the next government. The announced agreement, which must still be ratified by the respective parties, sends a clear message to the chareidim, that you will have less to say about policy in the next administration.
While Lieberman is perceived as right-wing he is a major force behind efforts to minimize Torah’s influence in Eretz Yisrael. His nationalistic hashkofa is foreign to Halacha and he is adamant in his efforts to permit non-Halachic marriage and implement other changes in line with those seeking a secular lifestyle.
One of the prominent voices against the agreement is veteran Likud member, Minister Michael Eitan, who announced that he will do everything he can to ensure the deal is not ratified.
According to a poll commissioned by the MAKO Channel 2 News website following the announced agreement, the two parties will earn 42 seats (Likud 27/ Yisrael Beitenu 15). Yair Lapid’s party is predicted to earn 18 seats, and he has already announced he is not ruling out teaming up with Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, which would then have 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Hence, the need for additional coalition members is all but non-existent and the negotiating strength of the chareidim to enter the coalition has vanished.
It is another sign that Likud today is a far cry from its traditional roots and while the Likud historically found the frum parties natural coalition parties, this is no longer the case. Just this week Minister Dr. Binyamin Begin stated that “Likud is national, not nationalistic” and in his Israel Radio interview he highlighted the party’s commitment to equal rights for all and liberalism, values that are a far cry from the party under the leadership of his late father Prime Minister Menachem Begin, values more in line with traditional Judaism.
What is no less worrisome, at a time when achdus is critical, the Ashkenazi chareidi parties are breaking apart and if they run independent of one another they will most likely earn less seats as has been proven historically. Such a situation would further diminish the chareidi community’s influence in Knesset at a time when critical issues weigh in the balance, issues including the military draft and housing.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)