In response to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is planning a unity government with Labor and the haredi parties, a source in the haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party says such a development would only harm them.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, the UTJ source says there is a "lack of clarity" regarding the haredi position on backing the different candidates for prime minister, be it Netanyahu or Labor head Yitzhak Herzog, who would serve in rotation with Hatnua head Tzipi Livni in their joint "Zionist camp."
"We need to put things on the table: we are not great hasidim of Netanyahu (i.e. fans of him – ed.), on the other hand, as it appears today, there is no other realistic political alternative," said the source on condition of anonymity.
He added that the majority of members in the Agudat Yisrael faction of UTJ "reason that as a matter of principle there is a preference to supporting a right-wing government that is closer in identifying to the tradition of Israel."
The source also discussed claims that members of the Degel Hatorah faction, which includes MK Moshe Gafni, are putting their support behind a leftist Labor government, in doing so siding with the leftist-leaning Shas headed by Aryeh Deri.
"That's an interesting theory but it isn't realistic," said the source. "Maybe Gafni's political positions are closer to the left, but in practice he won't act to establish a leftist government. Also because for now it isn't realistic, but more than that: in the moment of truth the responsibility for the traditional Jews in Israel is great."
As evidence, the source pointed to the 2009 elections in which Livni, then head of Kadima, outpaced Netanyahu by one mandate 28 to 27.
Great pressure was placed on UTJ to back a leftist government as Livni promised "exaggerated promises" to the party, but Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman who is the spiritual guide of Degel Hatorah nixed the deal in the bud.
"He doesn't want the establishment of a leftist government that may harm the Judaism of the state and the traditional Jews in it to be recorded on his name," the source said of Rabbi Shteinman.
Regarding a unity government, the source said "there's no doubt that a unity government will harm us. The haredi influence will turn into a fifth wheel and the achievements we are striving for in the coming term will be for naught. We won't be able to fix what we need to fix when the haredi bloc isn't a dominant and influential factor."
Last week during a ceremony launching UTJ's central elections headquarters in Tel Aviv, party chair MK Ya'akov Litzman spoke about the possibility of a unity government between Likud and Labor.
"They are looking for us all the time, from all sides and blocs in order to check cooperation in a constellation of one sort or another, but let's be realistic, despite the tensions between Netanyahu and Herzog, the option of a unity government certainly exists," said Litzman.
He warned such a step "is prone to severely harm the power of haredi Judaism and its ability to influence; we must not make mistakes based on illusions."