Shas leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri slammed Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett for joining forces with Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman to form a “change government,” and suggested that the Yamina leader was being manipulated by the other coalition parties.
In an interview Monday evening with the Haredi Radio Kol Hai station, Deri suggested that the new government is controlled by Liberman of Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid’s Lapid, who were seeking “the greatest opportunity to destroy the right and kick the Haredim out” of the government. He claimed that Liberman and Lapid are directing Bennett and his decisions, and are the real behind-the-scenes forces of the projected new government. He also contented that Liberman has a “veto” on the entry of Haredi parties to the coalition.
Deri said he did not believe the promises of Bennett and others in the future government that they would not deal with sensitive issues of religion and state, including conversion, funding for yeshivas, and the mandatory IDF draft.
Deri also suggested that Bennett never had any intention of forming a right-wing coalition. “I can’t get into the details, but [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu agreed to every suggestion that came across his table from Gideon [Sa’ar], Naftali [Bennett], and [Benny] Gantz.”
The Shas leader claimed the coalition negotiations “were all predetermined” and the talks were not conducted in good faith. “From the first minute, it was clear that Naftali Bennett and Yamina, from right after the election,” would eventually support the formation of a government with Lapid, Deri claimed.
Deri said the incoming eight-faction coalition is divided in two, with, on the one hand, “Bennett, Lapid, and Liberman, who really want this government, and the others, who don’t really want this government, but are afraid that the media will attack them for torpedoing the ‘change government.’”
The Shas leader suggested that Bennett “no longer has a community of support” behind him because Yamina voters will largely abandon him following his decision to join forces with Lapid and with Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas.
Deri told the Radio Kol Hai interviewer that he used to be troubled by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef referring to the national-religious right in Israel, which was long identified with the Jewish Home party, as the “Non-Jewish Home.” Today, Deri said, he understands that Yosef’s comments were “words of prophecy,” adding: “We see now how someone without true Torah knowledge behaves.”
Bennett served as the leader of Jewish Home from 2012 to 2018, when he left to form the New Right, which later became Yamina.
The Knesset is set to hold a vote of confidence in the new government by June 14, with the parties in the prospective coalition holding a razor-thin majority of 61 of the 120 votes. If confirmed, the unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist, and an Islamist party would remove Netanyahu from power, to be replaced by Bennett.