Shas announced on Monday that it would not send a representative to a committee charged with establish a replacement to the Tal Law.
The party's chairman, Eli Yishai, told Haaretz on Monday that he doubted the credibility of the committee headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner. "If this committee was serious, like the one there was for the Tal Law, whose framework allowed various people's voices to be heard, I would send a representative, for I have something to say on the matter," said Yishai. "But why must I take part in the show?"
Yishai consulted with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef before making the decision against sending a representative. His decision did not come as a surprise, since it had already become clear that United Torah Judaism would not be sending a representative. Haaretz has learned that members of Yishai's party in the Knesset as well as those outside the Knesset offered to sit on the committee, but the Shas chairman announced on Monday afternoon that he would not be sending anyone.
According to estimations, Shas's participation in the committee without that of United Torah Judaism would earn it daily attacks by the Ashkenazi media. It seems Shas would prefer to observe the committee from the outside – a safer stance as far as it is concerned.
Yishai discredited the debate around a replacement for the law, which is due to expire at the end of July. "There is a lot of populism going on here. If they want to get to the point it is possible to find a solution. I do not see why we should send a representative. After all, they know what I want and I know what they want," he said.
Last Thursday, Netanyahu, together with heads of his new unity coalition, decided that efforts to establish a replacement for the Tal Law would begin as soon as this week. According to the requirements of an Israel High Court ruling, Netanyahu is required to approve a replacement law within the next two and a half months.
Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz appointed MK Yohanan Plesner to head the committee of experts charged with preparing the government-sponsored bill to replace the Tal Law, as per the unity coalition agreement. Plesner headed a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that worked for the past year to find a replacement for the Tal Law.