With the parties of the incoming government poised to sign coalition agreements, details are beginning to emerge. The first agreement the Likud party intends to sign on Thursday is with the Religious Zionism party, headed by MK Bezalel Smotrich.
One of the clauses in their agreement is a commitment to promote an amendment to the Religious Public Education Law, designed to formalize and enhance the status and authority of the state-religious public education system.
Likewise, upon its formation the government will immediately promote a program to lower tuition for yeshivas and religious girls' high schools, with a budget set at a sum of 100 million shekels per year toward this purpose.
In addition, the parties have agreed that National Service volunteers will be entitled to no less than 90 percent of the salary of a mandatory service soldier in the IDF who serves on the home-front. In the next state budget and the following years, 150 million shekels will be assigned to girls' seminaries and yeshivas that promote military service.
Religious Zionism was the first party to reach a final agreement with the Likud. Sources within the party told Israel National News that the signing of the agreement will take place on Thursday.
Among the clauses in the agreement with the Religious Zionist Party are: promotion of a significant reform to amend the justice system; the appointment of a National-Religious Chief Rabbi; amendments to legislation in light of the difficulties and loopholes created by the so-called “Grandfather Clause” of the Law of Return; and a new kashrut law.
The parties have also committed to enact a Basic Law: Immigration, along with reforms to the state's conversion process, which is to be expanded and made more accessible. Other clauses relate to enhancing the state's Jewish identity and awareness of its spiritual heritage, and to the allocation of hundreds of millions of shekels to strengthen Jewish identity. A Basic Law: Torah Study is also on the agenda, which will state that studying Torah is a fundamental value in the heritage of the Jewish people.
Smotrich and Netanyahu agreed on a government decision, to be approved within 60 days, to regulate the "young settlements" as well as the yeshiva in Homesh by amending the Disengagement Law as it applies to northern Samaria. The Evyatar Outline is also to be immediately implemented.
In order to make daily life easier in Judea and Samaria, it was agreed to regulate the crossings and to enhance the development of roads and infrastructure as well as to find a solution to the issue of cell phone reception across the Green Line.
The two parties also agreed on a five-year plan for the development of Judea and Samaria and to accelerate the construction of the haredi city of Kasif in the Negev. The Electricity Law is to be repealed, meaning that thousands of illegally built homes in the Negev (mostly Bedouin-Arab) will no longer be permitted to join the national electricity grid.
400 million shekels are to be allocated toward strengthening communities along the northern border; a plan to encourage Jewish settlement in the Galilee will be implemented; and a similar plan will be put in place in the Negev. 25 million shekels are to be budgeted for a government program to aid "mixed cities," and the government will also be promoting immigration from France and the United States within a budget of 350 million shekels per year.
Commenting on the agreements, Finance Minister-designate MK Bezalel Smotrich said, "The coalition agreement and its basic outlines are what define the intentions and the direction of this government. We will work together over the next four years for the benefit of all Israeli citizens. We will develop the communities in the Negev, the Galilee, and Judea and Samaria; we will fix the Israeli justice system as we committed to in the Law and Justice plan; we will restore governance to the Negev and the cities of Israel; we will strengthen the Jewish identity of the State of Israel; and we will strengthen the Israeli economy and open markets to enable our beloved country to flourish. Together, we will take the State of Israel to new heights. The coming years will not be easy and we are facing major changes in the world economy. Nonetheless, the State of Israel will be an island of stability, growth, and prosperity.”