Photo: Gil Yohanan
United Torah Judaism, Likud sign coalition deal
Ultra-Orthodox party becomes last to strike agreement meant to make it part of new government; promised two deputy ministers, chairmanship of two Knesset committees

Last but not least: The United Torah Judaism and the Likud struck a coalition deal Wednesday, giving the ultra-Orthodox party two deputy ministers and chairmanship of two Knesset committees.


The deal was signed by newly appointed Chairman of the Likud faction, Knesset Member Zeev Elkin, and all five of the United Torah Judaism MKs.


According to the agreement, UTJ will hold the positions of deputy minister in the Health and Education ministries in the new government, and will head the Knesset's Finance and Public Petitions committees.


Knesset Member Moshe Gafni was named chairman of the Finance Committee.


The deal also stipulated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would retain the health portfolio throughout the government's term in office, giving the deputy health minister proxy to act on his behalf in all matters pertaining to the ministry.

MK Elkin (M) and UTJ members (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


As for matters of religion and state, both sides agreed not to push or approve any private bills which may infringe on the status quo, and that should any such motion be brought before the Knesset, all members of the coalition would vote to quash it.


On the subject to conversions, the Likud and United Torah Judaism agreed to the compromise previously suggested by Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar, namely allotting municipal rabbis conversion authorities and essentially simplifying the process – which would still be supervised by the Chief Rabbinate.


The agreement further stipulated that the prime minister would appoint a professional team to look into the UTJ's claims of discrimination against the rabbinical courts.


The party's educational facilities will retain their independence and funding, and the government will work to regulate the Orthodox education's status within Israel's school system.


Ronen Medzini contributed to this report  


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