First Coalition Deal Signed Between UTJ and Likud

Haredi party UTJ becomes the first to seal negotiations as Netanyahu's coalition government starts to take form.

Chaim Lev, Ari Yashar ,

UTJ's Moshe Gafni, Ya'akov Litzman
UTJ's Moshe Gafni, Ya'akov Litzman
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Negotiating teams from Likud and the haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party finalized a coalition agreement draft on Tuesday, making UTJ the first party to reach a deal in coalition talks.

Likud representatives will present the draft to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while UTJ representatives will bring the draft before its rabbinical council ahead of a final signing of the deal.

Earlier on Tuesday the UTJ team stormed out of the negotiating room speaking of a "crisis" in talks over child benefits, in an apparent artificial bargaining trick.

UTJ apparently wanted the benefits, which were slashed under previous Finance Minister Yair Lapid, to be brought back to their previous levels, and to have new, larger stipends be given retroactively from January.

Likud refused the demands, leading the meeting to end in a stormy fashion.

However, a source familiar with the negotiations revealed to Army Radio: “this seems to be a maneuver. The haredim will come back shortly and then they will finish it, but as the end approaches they want to create an atmosphere of crisis.”

That prediction apparently was spot on, given the agreement draft finalized just hours later.

UTJ raised about 70 demands in the negotiations, according to the radio station. The demands that are not acceptable to the other partners are anticipated to be included in the coalition agreement, but in a formulation that is vague enough to keep all parties satisfied.