Speaking to Kikar Shabbos News, MK (Bayit Yehudi) Betzalel Smotrich began with words of praise and admiration for chareidi coalition partners, then adding “In my opinion, we sold out Shabbos for too little,” citing he believes the chareidim did not handle the current Chilul Shabbos crisis as they should have. He admits “sold out” is a bit harsh, but in this case, nonetheless accurate.

Smotrich explains that the matter of Shabbos is written into coalition agreements, meaning there cannot be changes to the Shabbos status quo. He continues by citing in this case, with the Israel Railways and other chilul Shabbos, this represents a violation of the status quo and coalition agreement and as such, the chareidi parties should not have given in as easily as they did.

Smotrich admits the working relationship has dwindled, stating whereas in the past, seven months ago, the chareidim would invite him and Minister Uri Ariel to discussions and even meetings with PM Netanyahu but this has stopped. He feels that for one thing, the chareidim are aware he and Ariel would not be as flexible on compromising Shabbos as they are. Another possibility he explained is that “They simply don’t want the mizrochnikim with them”.

Smotrich adds what is most painful for him is the fact that there is no “real reason” for the chilul Shabbos, using soccer as an example. He explains the games are now played on Friday afternoon at 3:00pm and by moving them forward an hour, this could have avoided chilul Shabbos. He insists that with a minimum of effort, games could have been moved ahead and chilul Shabbos avoided but they did not even insist on this.

Smotrich adds Litzman for example did not pressure the coalition at all. His resignation as minister did nothing, explaining if he and the other chareidim really wanted to avoid the chilul Shabbos, Litzman would have threatened to resign from the coalition, not just the cabinet.

He adds, “It is clear that PM Netanyahu does not want elections now and we could have used this to advance the Shabbos agenda”.

Kikar: So why don’t you and Ariel do the same? Why just the chareidim?

Smotrich: Simply because we do not have the backing and the mechanism to cause the effect the chareidim have and I do not understand why they do not work with us and go for the maximum to safeguard Shabbos instead of what was done.