Twenty years since Netanyahu served as prime minister for the first time, Moshe Gafni spoke to the Israeli Yated Neeman about his relationship with the chareidim during a premiership that extended over fifteen percent of Israel’s existence.
“First of all, we are Netanyahu’s partners,” he began. “This started with Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach, who told us to support Netanyahu twenty years ago. This statement still stands. Rav Shach saw great importance in going along with a representative of the right, Netanyahu in this case.”
Can you point to the lowest point of the relationship with the prime minister?
“Without doubt, Netanyahu’s partnership with Lapid and Bennett in the previous candidacy. We were greatly harmed in every area. The Torah world suffered much harm during that government, but not only [the Torah world]. The damage was widespread and painful.”
Did you speak to Netanyahu during the previous government? How did he explain the damage done to his chareidi supporters?
He constantly tried to tell me when I spoke to him that he didn’t like it. His statements in the coalition agreement [with Lapid and Bennett] basically supported the Torah world. One way or another, it was a dark time for us. You can’t mistreat partners this way. At the same time, the man people portray as a politician who puts his survival before everything else and who’ll do anything to survive at any cost bought down that government. And we were part of the game.”
Was there correlation or cooperation between you and Netanyahu in this process [of bringing down the last government]?”
There are things that I don’t want to say and don’t think are good to say. In summation, when I look at all the years we worked with the prime minister, our relationship had various ups and downs. We feel like his associates and partners… Netanyahu never once went against us in matters that were integrally important to us, unlike another Likud prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who voted against us regarding the draft law when he was in the opposition. Still, we don’t forget the low point, the partnership with Lapid and Bennett in the previous government which ignored our needs.”
Gafni added in the interview that he considers Netanyahu a good economist even though his capitalist views dictate a view that the more wealthy people there are, the more work there’ll be for everyone else.
“I think we should help everyone and give less preference to the wealthy,” Gafni said.
Gafni considers Netanyahu as middle of the road in political views and reluctant to get drawn into belligerent or unnecessary actions, and Gafni hopes he’ll stay that way. His governance is generally good except for his attacks against Obama, which Gafni feels should have been avoided where possible in order to avoid conflict with the United States.
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel