Talk of a merger between Eli Yishai's newly-founded "Yachad" party and the National Union faction of Housing Miniter Uri Ariel are looking increasingly unlikely following statements made Tuesday evening by Rabbi Meir Mazuz, dean of the Kisei Rahamim yeshiva and the former Shas MK's spiritual mentor.
In an interview with the Kol Berama radio station Rabbi Mazuz was asked his opinion on women running as MKs for the new party, with the interviewer giving the example of National Union MK Orit Struk.
Rabbi Mazuz's answer indicated that despite the serious rift between Yachad and Shas the two share the same hareidi stance against women serving as MKs, and means the likelihood of a much talked-about merger or joint list with the religious-Zionist National Union is unlikely to become a reality.
"This is something I cannot rule on," said Rabbi Mazuz. "For 70 years it has been accepted among the hareidim not to integrate women (into party lists) and that is (based upon) sources in the Talmud, Maimonides..."
"That a woman should speak in the name of the community until now has not been, and we don't want to make any innovations," he cautioned.
His comments come as negotiations continued Tuesday morning between Ariel and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett over the National Union faction's future within the party. The meeting - the latest in a marathon of talks between the two - took place at Bennett's office at the economics ministry, and was described as "crucial" to the future of the union between Jewish Home and the National Union.
According to sources, however, the meeting ended after just one hour after it became clear no progress was being made on key issues.
National Union joined the Jewish Home party prior to the last elections in what was hailed as a groundbreaking show of unity among the religious-Zionist camp, and which earned the Jewish Home party 12 seats in the 19th Knesset.
But tensions between the two factions have been simmering over "ideological differences," as well as political ones - with Ariel's faction demanding a significant number of places on the party list reserved for National Union MKs, and Bennett insisting that MKs other than Ariel run in the party's primaries. (INN)