United Torah Judaism number two Moshe Gafni, in an interview recorded on Friday and aired Saturday night on Channel 12 News, claimed he was not afraid to sit in the opposition, and added that if Netanyahu formed a coalition without the Haredim, “he will remain all alone in the system to face those who want to kick him out of office.”
“I want to be in the coalition, but it won’t be a disaster if we’ll be in the opposition,” Gafni argued. “I’m not under pressure to stay out — I was in the opposition in the previous term. If we were under pressure then we would have been zigzagged like everyone else these days, saying now we support someone else (other than Netanyahu – DI), or that now we’re ready to sit down with Yair Lapid – but we’re not saying that.”
Blue&White co-chairman Yair Lapid is one of UTJ’s arch-enemies, having been elected on an anti-Haredi ticket in 2013, which was followed by a short stint as finance minister when he slashed Haredi families’ stipends.
MK Moshe Gafni, 67, a senior member of the Ashkenazi Haredi party United Torah Judaism, was first elected to the Knesset on the Degel HaTorah list in 1988, and was appointed Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs in Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud-led government in 1990. He served as member of the Finance Committee, and since 2013 has been chairman of the same committee, which is one of the three most powerful committees in the House.
“We say our position, our truth,” Gafni said. “Anyone who accepts these things – we ask that they vote for us, but we’re not under pressure. There might be a government without the Haredim, I am sometimes even pleased with it – I like being part of the opposition.”
“We were in a similar situation when [Lapid] was part of the evil brotherly pact of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, and Netanyahu went with them and left us outside – we survived, nothing terrible happened.”
“If Netanyahu decides he’s going with Blue&White and Yair Lapid, and he leaves us out – we’ll accept it,” he said, “but the meaning of it would be that it won’t turn out in his favor – and he knows it, too. This is not in his favor because he will remain lonely within this system, to face those for whom what matters more than anything else is booting him out of power. We’re not like that.”
Gafni also referred to Benny Gantz’s comments last week, that he would work to establish a government without the Haredi parties, and said, “The politicians can say one thing today and another half an hour later something else – they do what’s convenient for them.”
“Someone probably explained to him (Gantz) that he could target Liberman’s votes, so he should say there should be a government without Haredim. It makes all of us look unserious, as if we’re all in the same boat together, since we’re all members of the Knesset, which is why I think the whole thing is irrelevant.”