Degel HaTorah's Avraham Ravitz
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Agudat Israel's Yakov Litzman
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Agudat Israel splits from Degel HaTorah

Ten days before deadline for submission of Knesset rosters, House Committee approves breakup of Hasidic, Lithuanian United Torah Judaism groups. Dispute leading to chasm revolves around rotation of 6th, 7th spot on party list

The Knesset's House committee approved Thursday morning the split between the Hasidic Agudat Israel group and the Lithuanian Degel HaTorah group that make up the United Torah Judaism party.


The approval came 10 days before the deadline for submission of party lists for the 18th Knesset elections.


Degel HaTorah leader MK Avraham Ravitz told Ynet, "We've already started to set up headquarters under the assumption that we have no partners. We are responsible people. We would rather go together, but we will not be dictated to."


Ravitz himself announced last month that he would not run for another term after serving 20 years in office.


"We are not talking to deaf people – people who only want to talk and don't want to listen. We have guidelines and we have demands – we must change the order of the representatives in the party and the manner in which positions are selected.


"If they take our demands seriously, we can have it over with in an hour, but when this hour will come, I do not know," Ravitz added.


An Agudat Israel source also confirmed the split, saying, "We keep reaching out to keep the unity and peace, but if they insist on splitting, they will have to live with the consequences."


Dispute over 6th slot

The two groups have a long history of disconnecting and uniting. The main source of the current conflict revolves around the sixth spot on the united roster that traditionally goes to an Agudat Israel representative.


Degel HaTorah has demanded the spot for one of their own, since the seventh slot on the list is not guaranteed to be realistic according to polls.


According to the United Torah Judaism's constitution, the sixth and sevenths slots are to be rotated between the two groups.


However, since the Israeli government in recent years has not been able to last a full term, Degel HaTorah officials are concerned that the rotation might not be put into effect.


The Agudat Israel centeral committee is scheduled to convene on Thursday to elect the party's representatives ahead of the Knesset elections.


The vote is a matter of formality, and barring any surprises the list is expected to include, in the following order, MK Yakov Litzman, MK Meir Porush, Rabbi Eliezer Moses and Yisrael Eichler.


Alongside the chasm among the religious parties, the Knesset House Committee approved another split – the Meimad party, which will be running for Knesset with the Green Movement, has severed its ties with the Labor party.


In the coming days the Hatikva movement's split from the National Union – National Religious Party is expected to be approved as well.


Zvi Lavi contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.18.08, 17:08
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