December 8, 2023

Haredi party chairs to coordinate on issues regarding Jewish identity as ultra-Orthodox factions look likely to play major role on return to government.

Ultra-Orthodox party leaders Aryeh Deri and Yitzchak Goldknopf met on Friday to discuss cooperation between their two parties, as they prepare to enter negotiations to join a prospective right-wing religious coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu.

Goldknopf, chair of the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism party, met Deri, head of the Sephardic Shas, at the latter’s home in Jerusalem, a UTJ statement said. The parties agreed to cooperate for the benefit of vulnerable communities and the preservation of Jewish identity in the State of Israel.

According to the Srugim news site, the two also praised the success of their parties at the election. Shas won 11 seats at the November 1 vote, while UTJ won seven seats.

The ultra-Orthodox parties are loyal to former prime minister Netanyahu — who staged a stunning comeback — and will likely play an important role in his expected coalition.

Netanyahu’s bloc of parties — Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and UTJ — will control 64 seats in the Knesset, while those parties who made up the outgoing government control 51 seats; the mainly Arab Hadash-Ta’al, with five seats, is not linked to either side.

US Ambassador Tom Nides tweeted on Friday that he called to congratulate Deri on Shas’s success, adding he was looking forward “to working with him on maintaining our unbreakable ties.”

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022

The ultra-Orthodox parties were left out of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid’s outgoing diverse coalition, and have accused it of harming the Jewish identity of the state, as well as enacting reforms that targeted subsidies given to the ultra-Orthodox communities.

The outgoing government reformed the Kashrut certification process and imposed work conditions for child-care subsidies.

It also raised taxes significantly on plastic tableware and soft drinks, which are widely used and consumed in the ultra-Orthodox community.

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