Sources close to Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Friday that the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party had “deceived the entire country” through their refusal to join a coalition government, after spending weeks making it appear that they would sign such an agreement with Livni.
Kadima sources also blamed internal disagreements within Shas for the party’s refusal to sign a coalition agreement.
Shas officials announced on Friday that it would not join a coalition led by Livni, ending weeks of uncertainty and making early elections almost inevitable. [Link added.][
The story goes on to note that an alternative government formula remains possible, bringing in “Labor, Meretz, the Pensioners, and all of, or a faction of, United Torah Judaism.” It would be a minority coalition.
There is little doubt that a new election would favor the right, and result in a government led by Likud. And that only enhances the bargaining leverage of Shas: Assuming Livni would prefer not to face the electorate just yet, Shas can hold out for more of its usual demands: expanded social welfare benefits for large poor families, a bigger budget for its yeshiva, no change to the status of Jerusalem, and an extension of rabbinic courts’ jurisdiction.
That’s some price. Is it worth it to Kadima and Labor as a means to forestall an election and right-wing government?
Unrelated tidbit: When I go to any page at HaAretz today, I get an ad that says:
Negotiate with Ahmadinejad? Obama says “I would.” Hillary says, “I would not.” Hillary is right… Paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Nice try. Another Haaretz item: New Gallup poll shows 75% of U.S. Jews plan to vote Obama.