Haredi lawmaker who opposes IDF draft to serve in security cabinet

Yitzhak Goldknopf leader of United Torah Judaism Party, also poised to become construction and housing minister claims in interviews that studying Torah is harder than serving in the military

Moran Azulay|Updated:
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday he has signed a coalition deal with the party of ultra-Orthodox lawmaker who openly opposed IDF draft for religious soldiers, making him a member of the security cabinet.
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  • Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night secured the final votes needed to form a government, 12 minutes before his deadline to do so, and called President Isaac Herzog to finalize his rise to power. Netanyahu now has a week to swear in his government.
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    יצחק גולדקנופף בפיצוציה החביבה עליו
    יצחק גולדקנופף בפיצוציה החביבה עליו
    Itamar Ben-Gvir; Benjamin Netanyahu; Yitzchak Goldknopf
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    As per agreement, United Torah Judaism party leader Yitzhak Goldknopf will also serve as construction and housing minister. The appointment that did not escape the attention of outgoing Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.
    "The man who said learning Torah is harder than to be a soldier on the front lines is going to be serving in the security cabinet. A man who chairs an anti-Zionist party that openly opposes serving in the IDF will be part of a committee that decides IDF policy.
    "Bibi, the way you spit in the face of IDF soldiers is beyond comparison."
    Other provisions have also been agreed upon with United Torah Judaism party include equal pay for kindergarten workers and Haredi school educators, and increased budgets for yeshivas.
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    אביגדור ליברמן
    אביגדור ליברמן
    Liberman had some harsh words for Netanyahu
    (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
    Itamar Ben-Gvir, meanwhile, will be in charge of a new, crime fighting unit that will be overseen by the Shin Bet domestic security agency. The unit will work in conjunction with the newly established Ministry of National Security, which will be headed by Ben-Gvir, with Shin-Bet for the first time being involved in domestic criminal matters, including in the Arab sector.
    Ben-Gvit's party, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) said: "A host of principles and laws will provide full support to soldiers and police officers, along with development in the Negev and the Galilee, advancement of the Jewish identity and increased of budgets for the National Security Ministry by NIS 45 billion over seven years."
    Ben-Gvir will also serve as a security cabinet member and be represented in the Judicial Selection Committee.
    But, with many Likud members becoming increasingly unhappy with the portfolio distribution, the new government's swearing in ceremony might be postponed by up to 10 days.
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    הרצוג בכנס דוב לאוטמן באוניברסיטת תל אביב
    הרצוג בכנס דוב לאוטמן באוניברסיטת תל אביב
    President Herzog
    (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom)
    Netanyahu's announcement to Herzog is binding, which means that no further extensions will be offered for the premier-designate to continue any further coalition negotiations.
    "He has reaffirmed his commitment to work for all Israelis and I wished him luck. I expect to see a government that will work for citizens of all walks of life and will further serve to deescalate the tensions within Israeli society," Herzog said.
    "We all need to take a step back and see all others as equals and part of the historic Jewish experience."
    First published: 15:35, 12.22.22
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