Shas Will Back Netanyahu for PM Even at the Cost of a Fourth Election, Party Leader Says

Netanyahu is a 'natural partner' in maintaining religious status quo in Israel, ultra-Orthodox party chairman Dery says

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Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Shas Chairman Arye Dery (R) at a Shas Knesset faction meeting, Jerusalem, October 23, 2017
Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Shas Chairman Arye Dery (R) at a Shas Knesset faction meeting, Jerusalem, October 23, 2017Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Shas chairman Arye Dery said on Tuesday he will support Netanyahu in the upcoming elections, even if it comes at the cost of a fourth election.

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"We are natural partners in keeping the Jewish character of the state," Dery said in a Channel 12 interview. Asked whether he would also support Netanyahu at the cost of the country having to go to a fourth election, Dery replied "yes, unless we persuade Gantz to enter a broad coalition with a rotating premiership."

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Dery said he had already sought to build a similar arrangement in the previous election and that "if they had listened to me, Gantz would have been prime minister in just a few more weeks."

Support for Netanyahu was in line with the wishes of the Shas electorate, Dery added.

Last week, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, head of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, made a similar commitment.

Asked in an interview on Israeli public broadcaster Kan 11 whether the right-wing bloc would agree to keep having elections until Netanyahu manages to form a government, Litzman said he had "no problem with this."

"Gantz does not want me as health minister, so he will not be prime minister," Litzman said.

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