Aryeh Deri has crushed any hope of the Herzog-Livni duo that they can form the next government coalition and has paved the way for a Netanyahu-led Haredi-right-wing administration.
Deri, and the Shas party he heads, have a long record of moving left or right so long as the party can be part of a coalition and squeeze the government for money for its institutions. The party and its chairman have no ideology when it comes to being part of the power structure.
When Deri says he is a leftist, don’t believe him
When he say he is a nationalist, don’t believe him.
However, on Thursday made it clearer than ever, with no reservations, and said at a campaign stop at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market and also on Israeli radio stations:
I have un-categorically stated that I will not sit in a leftist government, and then I was asked about my personal association with Herzog. I answered, ‘I don’t discard Bujie [Herzog] personally….I have explained clearly that the participation of Shas with the Likud goes back many years.’
That is not entirely true. Shas sat in the Peres-Rabin coalition and voted for the Oslo Accords, and Deri said earlier this week he favors the expulsion of Jews from Jewish communities that are not part of large populating centers in Judea and Samaria.
So with the election results in doubt and polls showing a trend in favor of Herzog and Livni’s Zionist Union party, why is Deri locking himself out of a possible coalition led by Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who have a commanding lead over Netanyahu, according to the polls?
The simple and correct answer is that Deri knows that a Herzog-Livni coalition would be incredibly unstable, unless there is a sudden sweep beyond the leftists’ wildest imagination. On the other hand a government headed by Netanyahu, even with the tiniest majority, would be stable.
In other words, a coalition in the hand is better than a coalition is in the bush.
The arithmetic is very simple, much more so than colleague Shalom Bear stated here yesterday.
Let’s give Bujie the benefit of the doubt and grant him 26 seats in the Knesset. Let’s give Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 13 and Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon, eight. That comes out to 47, and make it 53 with six seats for Meretz, and that is being generous.
The missing seats won’t come from the Likud or Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home). Nor will they come from Yisrael Beiteinu. They won’t come from the United Arab List because Kahlon has ruled out sitting with a coalition that is kept in office by outright anti-Zionists, although the same objection could be raised concerning a cajole of future MKs on Herzog’s list of candidates.
The only way Herzog and Livni can fill the gap is with the Haredi parties. YaHadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism) traditionally sits with the right wing. Even if they were to agree to sit with Herzog and Livni, all of the hate in the world for Netanyahu will not convince Lapid and Meretz to sit together with the Haredim. And vice-versa.
The UTJ chairman even refused to show up for a question and answer session on Thursday that would have required him to sit in the same room with Lapid.
Yes, if Shas wins eight seats, it could give Herzog a majority, but Deri knows that a leftist-Haredi coalition is too shaky to last any longer than the time between Mincha afternoon prayers and Maariv evening prayers.
But Deri knows very well that he is the deal-breaker for a coalition led by Netanyahu, even if the Likud wins only 21 seats. Add five from Yisrael Beiteinu, 12 from Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) and eight from Kulanu. The sum total is 46, and these numbers are conservative.
That is where the Haredim will call the shots. Shas and UTJ will come up with at least 15 seats, giving Netanyahu a tiny but stable majority of one. Unlike a leftist coalition with Haredim, all of the parties in the projected Netanyahu government have no problem sitting with each other.
In the past, that would not have been true because Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, was one of the major reasons, the previous coalition broke up, But his party has been whittled down to almost nothing, leaving him little room to let out much more than a weak squeak.
If Yachad wins enough votes to enter the Knesset, and that is a big question mark, the coalition would have a majority of four, after subtracting Baruch Marzel, who has said he won’t sit with Netanyahu.
Deri has done his math, and if the above scenario becomes reality, the irony of ironies is that the anti-Netanyahu media blitz will have resulted with their two most hated voting blocs waving the heaviest hand in the government – settlers and Haredim.
However, there is one big caveat emptor, as a reader responded to this article on Facebook:
LOL. “If Aryeh Deri keeps his word …