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Israel: United Torah Judaism open to unity government, but without Lapid

September 18, 2019 at 9:26 am

Israeli Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman on 24 November 2017 [Reuven Frizi/Wikimedia]

With early Israeli election results indicating deadlock between Likud and Blue and White, the head of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) said last night that his party did not oppose a unity government.

According to a report in pro-settler news outlet Arutz Sheva, UTJ chief and current deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman described his party’s reported eight seats as an “amazing achievement”.

“We merited to have an amazing achievement and to increase the number of votes we received, but these are only the exit polls, and we’ll wait to see the final results,” Litzman said.

“We demonstrated loyalty to the great rabbis, sanctified God’s name, and we will not compromise on our values.”

Litzman spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after results began to emerge, vowing that his party would recommend Netanyahu as premier.

READ: Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz claim victory

In addition, Litzman said that UTJ does not oppose the formation of a unity government in principle, but would refuse to join such a coalition including Blue and White’s Yair Lapid.

“We aren’t against a unity government, but it cannot included Lapid,” Litzman said, referring to the Yesh Atid leader who brought his party into the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance.

“Unfortunately, this election was filled with incitement and smears against haredim and religious people. We hope and wish that this terrible talk disappears immediately,” Litzman added.

Voter turnout increased yesterday compared to April’s election, with Arutz Sheva noting that “while higher levels of overall turnout typically have a negative impact on the vote share of haredi parties…all three major exit polls show UTJ retaining its eight seats”.