The political drama continued on Thursday as Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah announced that he is leaving the Yesh Atid party and forming his own party together with Roi Cohen, an attorney and president of Lahav, Israel Chamber of Independent Organizations and Businesses, an umbrella organization for self-employed workers.
In his speech, Shelah slammed Lapid for his behavior toward the Chareidi sector in Israel.
“The Chareidi public is 15% of the population in Israel,” Shelah said. “We have serious differences regarding the image of the state but nevertheless they are our partners. Nothing good will come from inciting against them or from striving to make changes against their will. The Chareidim know that I’m an ideological opponent but am open to dialogue. I’ll lead to a return of cooperation between them and our bloc that characterized the Labor party of yesteryear.”
Shelah has maintained a connection with Chareidi representatives over the years, according to Kikar H’Shabbos, and during the coronavirus era, even visited Chareidi cities to see if he could assist in their battle against the pandemic.
Shelah called on others in the center-left to join him rather than vote for right-wing parties such as Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina. “The failed experience of Blue and White shows that it’s not enough to say ‘anything but Bibi.’ The next government must have a clear path to a worldview that so many Israeli share.”
In September, Shelah, in a challenge to Lapid’s leadership, called for Yesh Atid to hold primaries for the first time and announced that he intends to run for leadership of the party. Lapid did not agree to primaries and Shelah, who was once Lapid’s close confidant, has apparently decided to try his luck for leadership with his own party.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)