UTJ, Likud to Sign Agreement


litzmanYahadus HaTorah-United Torah Judaism (UTJ) lawyers will be signing preliminary understandings with representatives of Likud on entering a Likud-led coalition today, according to a UTJ source.The signing will take place at the Yerushalayim office of attorney Yaakov Neeman, who heads the Likud negotiation team. If UTJ supports Likud, Binyamin Netanyahu will have the support of 50 MKs – including his faction and all four religious parties (11 from Shas, 4 from Ichud Leumi (National Union), 3 from Habayit Hayehudi and 5 from UTJ) – going into his meeting with President Shimon Peres tomorrow night. The president will decide whom to entrust with assembling a new government coalition.

Kadima has only the support of its own 28 MKs, after both Labor and Meretz announced yesterday that they would not support Kadima’s leader Tzipi Livni because she is seeking a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu (15 seats) and because she said she agreed with 90 percent of that party’s demands.

Outgoing Labor Minister Shalom Simchon said today on IDF Army Radio that Livni must “head honestly into the opposition” and be its leader. “She must stop the opportunistic processes,” he added, referring to Kadima’s contacts with Yisrael Beiteinu.

MK Stas Misezhnikov, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu negotiating team, criticized Likud for failing to respond to his party’s list of demands and said that “courtesy requires” Likud to provide an answer. “Either Shas is tying them down or they do not know what to answer,” he said.

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Feb 17, 2009 9:06 | Updated Feb 17, 2009 17:52
Significant progress in UTJ, Likud talks
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The United Torah Judaism faction will convene on Wednesday to decide whether to recommend to President Shimon Peres that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu form a coalition after UTJ officials reported significant progress in a meeting with a Likud lawyer on Tuesday morning.
UTJ head Ya’acov Litzman.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Slideshow: Pictures of the week With UTJ’s endorsement, Likud will have the support of 50 MKs going into its meeting with President Shimon Peres on Wednesday night ahead of the president’s decision on whom to entrust with building the new coalition.

Kadima, by contrast, only has the support of its own 28 MKs, after both Labor and Meretz announced Monday that they would not support Kadima leader Tzipi Livni because she is seeking a coalition with Israel Beiteinu.

“There is a lot of progress with Likud on a coalition agreement,” a UTJ official said.

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Likud officials could not confirm such progress and admitted that if Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman insisted on changes in the status quo on matters of religion and state, any understandings with UTJ could be “thrown out the window.”

UTJ opposes Lieberman’s central demand of recognizing civil unions between men and women who live together as partners without a religious ceremony. UTJ officials said their rabbis would not instruct them about what to do on the matter unless Likud signed a coalition deal with Israel Beiteinu in which civil unions were mentioned.

In a prospective coalition deal, UTJ is expected to be given the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee and a deputy ministry. It is not clear yet whether their deputy minister would serve under a minister from another party or whether they will control a ministry from the deputy minister’s job as they have in the past.

UTJ’s top priority in the coalition talks will be to alleviate the shortage in chareidi housing.


The Belzer Rebbe hosted UTJ’s five MKs last night and also met today to plan strategy. They decided a united front was needed, despite deep divisions between Degel Hatorah and Agudas Yisroel.

“We don’t have time for disputes,” a UTJ source said. “We are united and we will work together for the betterment of the entire population.”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Newscenter}