September 27, 2023

Another meeting to be held on Wednesday to resolve ‘fundamental issues’ before the final deal is signed.

The Likud party led by Israel’s incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an interim coalition deal with United Torah Judaism (UTJ) on Tuesday evening, as the deadline to form a coalition government approaches.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has tasked Netanyahu with forming a government by December 11. However, the prime minister-designate can ask for a two-week extension if he justifies why coalition talks so far have not led to an agreement with his partners.

According to a statement from UTJ, the party signed a memorandum agreeing to the allocation of roles in the next government, noting that an “extension needs to be requested from the president.” Another meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday to resolve “fundamental issues” before a final deal is signed.

Under the interim agreement, the ultra Orthodox party is set to gain control over the Construction and Housing Ministry as well as the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry. In addition, the party is expected to receive several deputy minister positions and to head a number of committees in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Earlier in November, the UTJ lawmaker Moshe Gafni was named chairman of the parliament’s Finance Committee, returning to his long-time role after having been ousted from the position in 2021 when his party became part of the opposition.

On Monday, the Likud party announced that its bloc of allied parties had gathered enough signatures to replace the parliament speaker Mickey Levy before the next government is sworn in. The outgoing speaker said he would convene the plenum next week to choose his replacement.

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