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Bibi On Brink Of Forming Coalition But Issues, Acrimony Linger

LapidBenjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett

LapidBenjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett

For their part, Shas and UTJ used harsh rhetoric at Netanyahu and Bennett for presumably excluding them from the new coalition. The haredi parties accused the prime minister and political newcomer of wanting to “destroy” the Torah world. News reports circulated that Shas and UTJ would actively support the dismantling of settlements in Judea and Samaria if Lapid and Bennett, anchoring a new government policy, implemented fiscal austerity measures resulting in hundreds of millions of shekels being trimmed from the state funding of haredi elementary and high school yeshivot.

Several prestigious religious Zionist rabbis also reproved Bennett and Lapid for rejecting Shas and UTJ. Yeshivat Har Hamor heads Rabbi Tzvi Tau, Rabbi Amiel Sternberg and Rabbi Mordechai Sternberg, in a full-page ad in Tuesday’s Yisrael Hayom, wrote that “it is forbidden to harm Torah students, and funds previously earmarked for yeshivas should not be cut. Diminishing the stature of Torah undermines the state of Israel.”

UTJ Knesset member Rabbi Yisrael Eichler told the Kikar HaShabbat haredi news website that Netanyahu, Lapid and Bennett would be “punished by the Almighty for their deeds.” His remarks drew criticism from Israeli haredi pop singer and producer Yishai Lapidot for being “ridiculous, unnecessary and out of line.”

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