Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5761 - April 4, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UTJ Joins the Coalition
by Eliezer Rauchberger

The UTJ party in the Knesset has joined the coalition. The party signed a coalition agreement last week with the Likud, according it two deputy ministers and two Knesset committee heads.

All five representatives of UTJ signed on its behalf. Tzachi Hanegbi and Uri Shani, director of the Prime Minister's office and his close confidante, signed on behalf of Likud.

According to the agreement UTJ will receive the chairmanships of the Finance and Internal Affairs committees, as well as the positions of Deputy Education Minister and Deputy Housing Minister. The Internal Affairs Committee is in charge of the Interior, Religious, Internal Security and Environmental Quality ministries of the government.

According to UTJ agreement, the first position will be given to Agudas Yisroel. Therefore, the Finance Committee chairmanship, considered the senior position, will be headed by Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz will be the Deputy Education Minister, and Rabbi Meir Porush will be Deputy Housing minister. Rabbi Moshe Gafni will be chairman of the Internal Committee of the Knesset, and Rabbi Halpert will continue to serve as deputy chairman of the Knesset.

One of the critical issues was the responsibilities of the deputy ministers. UTJ insisted that their deputy ministers be given real authority and not just an empty title. According to the agreement, the deputy minister in the Education Ministry will receive the following areas: He will be in charge of the Chinuch Atzmai system, including its extensions (i.e., the talmudei Torah). He will also be in charge of the girls' high schools, seminaries and post- elementary school educational institutions.

The coalition agreement explicitly states: "Every area for which a deputy minister is responsible will include the development issue and accompanying services."

The coalition agreement also includes many clauses on the issues of religion, education, Shabbos, excavations near graves, fundamental laws, budgetary discrimination against the chareidi sector and its institutions, the religious status quo and other issues.

The following is a translation of the main clauses of the coalition agreement:

A. The government will make every effort to reach a broad consensus on controversial issues.

B. The status quo on issues of religion, including conversion, will be maintained. If any of these areas are undermined, the Government will search for ways to amend the offenses.

C. If private Knesset proposals seeking to change the status quo on issues of religion are proposed, coalition discipline will be asserted in order to remove them from the agenda, unless all of the parties of the coalition have agreed to bring these proposals to a reading in the Knesset.

D. The Government will initiate activities for the study of the history of the land of Israel and the Jewish nation, including archaeological excavations. Out of concern for the honor of the deceased, it will be determined that if graves or human bones are found on a work-site, the work will continue only in accordance with arrangements determined by the Government, in accordance with the law. A ministerial committee to examine the existing legal situation on the issue -- while studying the issue of the honor of the deceased in Jewish religion and various other religions -- will advise whether there is room for change or improvement in the existing legal arrangement and implementation.

E. Within the framework of the preservation of the rule of the law, the Government will take measures for proper enforcement of existing legislation on religious topics.

F. Offending the lifestyles of the chareidi and religious sectors in clearly chareidi and religious residential areas, where these groups constitute the majority, will be prevented.

G. A worker will not be discriminated against for Shabbos observance.

H. The government will honor the Shabbos and Jewish holidays.

I. UTJ expresses its concern about the Jewish character of the State of Israel due to breaches caused by the increase in commercial activity on Shabbos and Jewish holidays. The Likud and its heads will examine UTJ claims on this issue.

J. The enacting of Basic Laws, including changes mentioned in the coalition agreements, will be made only with the consent of the UTJ party.

K. The status of chareidi education in the educational system will be preserved.

L. The threshold of votes required to win a Knesset seat will not be raised, and no changes will be made to regional election methods without the agreement of UTJ.


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