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
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
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
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
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
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
G. A worker will not be discriminated against for Shabbos
H. The government will honor the Shabbos and Jewish
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
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.