A minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party attacked key coalition partners on Tuesday, saying there should be no religious parties in the political system.
There are currently three religious parties in the ruling coalition: the ultra-orthodox United Jewish Torah and Shas parties, and the Zionist religious Bayit Yehudi.
“If there were an option for not mixing ultra-orthodox and religious parties in the political system, I would definitely prefer it, because politics is a matter of compromise and religion is simply unbreakable,” Social Equality Minister Guila Gamliel said Tuesday in an interview with Army Radio.
“We see this with the collapse of this government, and therefore there should be a clear separation,” Gamliel said. “I always say we should change the system of government. And there should be a public outcry to demand exactly that.
There was no immediate reaction from members of religious parties.
Last week, Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) stopped all work on the Shabbat on a footbridge in Tel Aviv because members of the ultra-orthodox coalition protested against the construction on the Jewish rest day. It was the latest in a series of controversies over religious issues that threatened to overthrow the government and call for early elections.
Gamliel linked the issue to the broader issue of governance in Israel’s political system, echoing longstanding claims that the fractured coalition system makes the ruling party dependent on smaller parties and makes it impossible to promote many of its own policies on various issues.
When asked about her own goals for the upcoming primary elections, Gamliel said she was working “very hard” to become one of the top five Likud members on the ruling party’s list, and that she aspires to become minister of education in the next government, a position currently held by the leader of the Bayit Yehudi party, Naftali Bennett.
On Sunday, Netanyahu told his party members that his goal was to win 40 seats in the Knesset in the upcoming national elections.
He told a group of party candidates who will run in the upcoming municipal elections that the results of that vote would “strengthen the power of Likud throughout the country.
For Netanyahu, reaching 35 seats, above the current Likud 30, was a “reasonable” goal, but 40 was the real goal.
Recent polls show that Likud would win about 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
Although national elections are not scheduled until November 2019, Netanyahu told coalition party leaders earlier this month that if the ultra-orthodox parties do not commit to a military bill, he will announce early elections in early September, likely to be held in early 2019.