Opinion: Traditionally right-wing communities are in the forefront of growing descent against the power of ultra-Orthodox parties who impose their agenda on secular society, secure in Netanyahu’s support

The recent move by the Ramat Gan city council to provide public transportation for the city’s residents on Shabbat, taking them to the bar and restaurant centers or to the beach, evoked an outcry from the ultra-Orthodox politicians threatening to end the status quo and the political understanding between secular and religious parties.

The decision, as polling shows, is in line with Avigdor Liberman’s main political slogan that is gaining support in the Israeli secular community, that religious parties have been forcing their agenda on Israeli society while not sharing in the burdens other Israelis must bare such as military service.

The ultra-Orthodox pray on Lag B’Omer (Photo: Eli Mendelbaum)
The ultra-Orthodox pray on Lag B’Omer (Photo: Eli Mendelbaum)


Despite the ruling Likud’s attempts to portray Liberman – who prevented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a coalition after the April 9 election – as a cynical opportunist, the point is not the man. The point is the message.

And opportunism on the part of Liberman did not stop the prime minister offering Yisrael Beytenu leader a blanck cheque if he joins his government.

MK Avigdor Liberman (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
MK Avigdor Liberman (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


Cities around the country: Tiberias, Modi’in, Arad, all considered majority right-wing supporters, are showing descent towards Netanyahu’s “natural partnership” with ultra-Orthodox political parties.

While political pundits stress that the Blue and White party will be unable to enlist religious parties into a coalition, should they win the election in September (primarily because of legislation passed by former finance minister and Blue and White co-founder Yair Lapid) Likud’s problem appears greater.

Netanyahu does not seem to have the majority support he needs to form the next government without a national unity agreement with Blue and White. They, on the other hand, remain steadfast in their refusal to join a coalition led by a prime minister under investigation and possible indictment on corruption charges.

Efforts to reduce Liberman’s electability throwing other anti-religious players into the ring such as Tiberias Mayor Ron Cobi, are not expected to succeed but the slogans remain: weaken the power of the Orthodox.

Shas leader and Minister of the Interior, Arye Deri (Photo: Avi Moalem)
Shas leader and Minister of the Interior, Arye Deri (Photo: Avi Moalem)


Some in Likud now seem to understand this. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote an op-ed for the Makor Rishon newspaper, owned by Sheldon Edelson – a supporter of the prime minister. In it, the speaker called for the authority on religious status quo questions to be left to municipal governments.

This revolutionary idea did not just appear in Edelstein’s mind. Especially now, before a public referendum.

He is eyeing the job of president, soon to be vacated by President Reuven Rivlin. He does not need a fight with the ultra-Orthodox parties just for the fun of it.

But logical argument is that while tensions with Iran, the budget deficit, and corruption investigations have not moved voters away from Likud, the question of religion and state may do that because it is becoming the hot issue on voters’ minds.

The public is signaling to Likud and its leader that it is time for change, but it seems only certain politicians are seeing the signs.

Netanyahu will likely increase efforts to unite the far-right parties but that may not be enough to provide him with the votes he will need.

Will he reconsider his alliance with the ultra-Orthodox parties? Or will he just make statements he hopes his voters will buy like he did before the last elections when it seems legalization of cannabis was popular on the right.

After all the point is avoiding prosecution and that might be beyond his reach.

As reported by Ynetnews