Religious Zionism says it agreed with the Likud to advance the study of the Basic Law on the Torah

The Religious Zionism party announced Wednesday night that it had reached agreements with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud on policy boards for a final coalition deal, shortly before the latter declared that he had succeeded in forming a government before of the midnight deadline.

Netanyahu has also reportedly struck deals on various issues with two other parties, including granting a veto on legislation to far-right Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir, who is slated to lead the new national security ministry. in the next government.

Having informed President Isaac Herzog, who has formed a government, Netanyahu must finalize deals with the other factions in his right-wing religious bloc and be sworn in to the possible ruling coalition by January 2.

According to a religious Zionist statement, the far-right party agreed with Likud to legislate a quasi-constitutional Basic Law declaring that “Torah study is a fundamental principle in the heritage of the Jewish people.”

Religious Zionism did not elaborate on the proposed law, which some of Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox associates have endorsed as part of efforts to formally enshrine exemptions from conscription for yeshiva students.

Religious Zionism’s statement said it had also agreed with Likud to promote “significant and historic reform” of the legal system, an apparent reference to the party’s backing of contentious measures that would slash judicial oversight and give politicians greater control. on judicial appointments.

Illustrative: High Court of Justice hearing in Jerusalem Supreme Court, October 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The party said other points of agreement included amending the Law of Return due to “the difficulties and loopholes created by the grandchild clause.” Religious Zionism and other allied parties in Netanyahu’s bloc have advocated removing the clause, which allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to receive Israeli citizenship as long as they do not practice another religion. Following criticism of the proposed amendment, Netanyahu said earlier this month that he “doubts” changing the law, but he did not explicitly rule it out.

In addition, religious Zionism said that it reached agreements with the Likud to appoint a national religious chief rabbi; legalization of illegal outposts in the West Bank; drawing up plans to “Judaize” the Galilee and Negev; and budgeting hundreds of millions of shekels to “strengthen Jewish identity,” among others.

There was no statement from the Likud on the agreements with Religious Zionism.

Meanwhile, Hebrew media reports said Netanyahu agreed to appoint Ben Gvir as vice chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation after they met Wednesday night for coalition talks.

There was no confirmation of the reports, which said the Otzma Yehudit leader would have a partial veto on the proposed bills, without elaborating.

Otzma Yehudit party chief Itamar Ben Gvir attends a special Knesset committee to discuss proposed changes to the Police Ordinance, December 18, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to Channel 13 news, Netanyahu has also agreed with the United Torah Judaism parties to increase the budgets for ultra-Orthodox educational institutions so that they receive the same funding as other schools.

The network said that unlike other schools, Haredi schools will receive the funds without oversight and will not be required to teach core subjects like English and math.

Along with Likud, Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit and UTJ, Netanyahu’s bloc also includes the one-seat far-right Noam faction and the ultra-Orthodox Shas, with whom the incoming prime minister has yet to reach final agreements.

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