A lively battle for the haredi vote seems to be shaping up with Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz’s announcement Monday that he is creating yet another Orthodox party.
It will be called Moriah and will appeal not just to haredim, the strictly Orthodox, but to a broader segment of the public, said Peretz.
The minister, who is rabbi of Ra’anana, has been an independent member of the Knesset since he broke with the Sephardic haredi Shas party two years ago.
Before launching his new party, Peretz consulted with Rabbi Eliezer Schach, the 96-year-old sage of Bnei Brak who is spiritual leader of Degel Ha Torah, an Ashkenazic haredi party.
Schach did not publicly endorse Peretz’s move. But he did not forbid it, which led to suspicions in haredi circles that he is playing a double game.
Over the weekend, Schach had reached a verbal agreement with the hasidic Agudat Yisrael party to field a joint list with Degel HaTorah in the June 23 Knesset elections.
He had hoped to enlist Peretz in the new alignment, but the Agudah sages balked. They said if Peretz joined their list, it could only be to replace a Degel man.
It appears now that Peretz’s Moriah party will siphon off support from the joint Agudah-Degel list and from Shas.
The absorption minister said he had been approached by delegations and individuals from a broad spectrum of the community who begged him not to quit politics.
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