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Right-wing religious parties form a coalition to prevent the centre from being in new Israeli government

February 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

Two ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel have said that they will join forces to strengthen their claim to join a coalition government formed by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister’s Likud-Yisrael Beitenu group won a narrow majority in the parliamentary election last week.

The leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism told Israeli media outlets that they will form a coalition to resist the new centrist party that came second in the election. The new Yesh Atid Party has promised to introduce compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews who have traditionally been exempt from this and other compulsory aspects of Israeli citizenship.

Shas leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told his members of the proposal to combine the two parties’ seats in the Knesset to produce an 18-seat bloc. “We intend to unite in one negotiating team,” he said. The group would hope to compete against Yesh Atid’s 19 seats.