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Key Israeli Rabbi Promises ‘Afterlife’ to Free Jammed Coalition Talks
Rabbi Shalom Cohen (second from left) consults with other rabbinical patrons of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party in 2000, prior to becoming its top rabbi. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Key Israeli Rabbi Promises ‘Afterlife’ to Free Jammed Coalition Talks

The rabbinical patron of Shas, an Israeli religious party, says Heaven will be open to two unwaveringly secular politicians if they change their minds and agree to join a governing coalition that includes the ultra-Orthodox. “Liberman and Lapid, if you will agree to join a coalition that the ultra-Orthodox control, you will be rewarded with a heavenly voice that declares: ‘You are invited to the World to Come,’” Rabbi Shalom Cohen said on Tuesday evening while speaking at a party meeting. He was referring to Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Israel Beteynu party, and Yair Lapid, the number two in Blue and White, a centrist political alliance. Both have been adamantly opposed to joining a government that includes ultra-Orthodox parties, claiming they would be given too much control over daily life, including military service for their adherents. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been unsuccessful in setting up a government since the September 17 parliamentary election, which resulted in a virtual tie between Blue and White and his right-wing Likud party.

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