Likud and UTJ May Have Coalition Deal Before Passover

With several positions secured, and Likud likely to agree to UTJ's demands, haredi party looks poised to be first to finalize deal.

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Haim Lev, Cynthia Blan,

United Torah Judaism members
United Torah Judaism members
Hezki Ezra

As coalition negotiations led by Likud continue, Ashkenazi-haredi party United Torah Judaism appears the closest to forming an agreement. 

Political analysts estimate that a deal could be in place as soon as this week, before the beginning of Passover on Friday night. 

Over time, United Torah Judaism has made abundantly clear their requirements to joining the 20th Knesset's government as led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Last week, Netanyahu promised the health portfolio to UTK chair Yaakov Litzman and chairmanship of the Finance Committee for MK Moshe Gafni. 

The party is also demanding a deputy minister role for MK Meir Porush and chairmanship of the Interior Committee for MK Uri Maklev. 

On issues of principle, UTJ will require that any government they join increase child allowances back to the level they were in 2012. It is estimated this amounts to NIS 2.6 billion, and that Likud will likely agree. 

UTJ also requires the renunciation of any budget cuts made to educational institutions in the previous Knesset - thereby, returning approximately half a billion shekels to haredi schools and yeshivas.

"Raising benefits, especially for children aged 2-4, and lowering food prices are social processed, meant to help the entire population and not just the haredi sector," Likud officials were quoted as saying Sunday morning.  

Speaking to Arutz Sheva about the progress of negotiations, MK Porush said things were going well but it was impossible to know until a final deal was signed. 

"There is a will [to conclude a deal] and a good atmosphere, there is a desire to come to an agreement. We haven't worked together for over two years, and maybe we've had disputes. There are some things we don't see eye to eye on."

Porush, however, dismissed the possibility of a unity government, arguing he didn't believe it would actually happen and noting its irrelevance to his party. 

Last week it was reported that negotiating teams for Likud and United Torah Judaism met intensely, after UTJ told Likud they were reluctant to engage in coalition talks during the intermediate days of Passover so as to maintain the sanctity of the holiday. 








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