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The holy alliance between Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ceding to all their demands, Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties are in no hurry to dismantle his government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Monastirioton synagogue in Thessaloniki, Greece June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis - RTS179BA
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Knesset member Moshe Gafni from the ultra-Orthodox Yahadut HaTorah party made an interesting comment June 12. Speaking at the Haaretz Peace Conference, the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee said, "The left is more intelligent than the right," adding that "in terms of the diplomatic process, I am closer to the left." As he put it, the Palestinians were here before us, and we are living in the land of Israel because of a divine promise made by God to the Jewish people.

While Gafni came under sharp criticism from his own party for this, the left, particularly the Labor Party, applauded him. His remarks strengthened their belief that they could enlist the support of the ultra-Orthodox in their efforts to replace Israel's right-wing government. The top candidates for the Labor Party leadership announced that they have excellent ties with the ultra-Orthodox and promised to form a coalition with them. Chief among them is Knesset member Isaac Herzog, who, thanks to his grandfather Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog (Israel’s former chief rabbi), is considered popular among politicians and many ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

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