Eli Yishai's Yachad-Ha'am Itanu party may be the biggest surprise of the 2015 Elections, sources stated to Arutz Sheva Sunday – not just due to the many possible joint lists it could forge with the Otzma Yehudit party or Tekuma faction, but possibly with a third party as well.
Various reports have surfaced over the past several days alleging that the spiritual leader of Yishai's party, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, has been engaged in talks with former MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem – Mazuz's former student – to possibly form a political union.
Amsalem is a former Shas MK who left the party in 2010 after being sharply criticized by fellow Shas MKs. Amsalem was considered too liberal for many of the hareidi-religious Shas MKs, advocating a softer halachic line on conversions and Jewish identity.
He has fiercely attacked Shas for what he says amounts to a betrayal of Sephardic tradition, claiming it has embraced the ethos of preferring full-time Torah study to employment championed by modern-day Ashkenazic hareidi parties – an ethos he dismisses as totally foreign to Sephardic, and wider Jewish tradition.
Two weeks ago, Amsalem called on Jewish Home to discuss his inclusion on their ticket. Speaking to Arutz Sheva at the time, Amsalem said that "a large part of the tens of thousands who voted for me would love to see me in Jewish Home. It is the natural place for me."
But a revival of the Am Shalem party along with Yishai could be in the works, according to the most recent reports – amid several indications that the proposed union between Yishai and Otzma Yehudit is incompatible and against the backdrop of polls indicating that Yishai's party is hovering on the border of the Knesset threshold.
Confidantes close to Rabbi Amsalem stated to Arutz Sheva Sunday night that while talks to this end have continued "for weeks," the likelihood of a last-minute joint list is "unlikely" in practice. Practically, the union would have to be forged very quickly, as the full Knesset lists for parties in the 2015 elections are due by Thursday, Jan. 29.
However, he added, "in politics, everything can turn around in a few hours."