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UNITED TORAH JUDAISM (Hebrew : יַהֲדוּת הַתּוֹרָה הַמְאוּחֶדֶת‎, Transliterated : Yahadut HaTora HaMeuhedet; UTJ) is an alliance of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel
Israel
, two small Israeli Haredi
Haredi
(Ultra-Orthodox) political parties in the Knesset
Knesset
. It was first formed in 1992.

The two parties have not always agreed with each other about policy matters. However, over the years, they have co-operated and united as a voting bloc in order to win the maximum number of seats in the Knesset
Knesset
, since many extra votes can be wasted if election thresholds are not attained under Israel's proportional representation parliamentary system.

When UTJ joined Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
's coalition in 2004, it split into its two constituent factions of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel
Israel
. Before the 2006 election , Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel
Israel
agreed to revive their alliance under the banner of United Torah
Torah
Judaism to not waste votes , and to achieve maximum representation in the 17th Knesset
Knesset
.

The party won 6 seats in the 20th Knesset
Knesset
elections in 2015, which was down from 7 seats in the 19th Knesset
Knesset
elections in 2013.

CONTENTS

* 1 Ideology * 2 Structure and constituency

* 3 History

* 3.1 2004 split * 3.2 Reunification as a party * 3.3 2006 unity

* 4 Knesset
Knesset
Members * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links

IDEOLOGY

United Torah
Torah
Judaism (Yahadut Ha Torah
Torah
- UTJ) is a coalition of two ultra-Orthodox parties, Agudat Israel
Israel
and Degel HaTorah, which submitted a joint list in the 1992 election, in which it won four Knesset
Knesset
seats. In the 1999 elections, UTJ won five Knesset
Knesset
seats. UTJ wants to maintain a status quo relationship in regard to religion-and-state issues. UTJ has no uniform opinion on the issue of increasing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories .

STRUCTURE AND CONSTITUENCY

This section needs to be UPDATED. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2012)

UTJ was always a coalition of two factions:

* The Degel HaTorah ("Banner the Torah
Torah
") party that is guided by the rabbinic heads (usually the leading rosh yeshivas ("deans") of the Lithuanian yeshivas ) of non-Hasidic Haredi
Haredi
Ashkenazi Jews . * The Agudat Israel
Israel
("Union Israel") party that is guided by the followers of Hasidism in Israel, and also consisting of Ashkenazi Jews . The leading members of this party are the followers of the Ger , Vizhnitz , Boston , and Sadigura Hasidim.

Degel HaTorah's pre-eminent sage is Rabbi
Rabbi
Aharon Shteinman , of Bnei Brak . Policy decisions are also weighed and decided by a Moetzes Gedolei Ha Torah
Torah
("Council of Torah
Torah
Sages"), a council of experienced communal rabbis, made up of mostly senior and elderly heads of yeshivas , all very learned in Talmud
Talmud
, devoted to halakha (classical Jewish law), and guided by their knowledge and application of the classical "Code of Jewish Law", the Shulkhan Arukh .

The Agudat Yisrael faction takes its directions from the Hasidic rebbes of Ger , Vizhnitz , Boston , and Sadigura , also steeped in Torah
Torah
law and mysticism , who exert much influence in the daily lives of their followers (the "Hasidim"). The Belz rebbe, a prominent political and religious figure in his own right, is also closely involved in Agudat policy-making, and his followers are loyal UTJ supporters, though inter-party politics resulted in Belz failing to get any of their representatives into a high position on the UTJ list in the 2006 Knesset
Knesset
elections, and consequently, resulting in a faction with no Belz members present, for the second Knesset
Knesset
in a row.

HISTORY

Before the formation of UTJ and the establishment of Degel HaTorah, the two factions were united under one united Agudat Yisrael party, but the late mentor and supreme guide of the non-Hasidic group, Rabbi Elazar Shach (1898–2001), broke away from the Hasidic wing when it was clear that the party was not living up to its mandate to represent all Torah
Torah
Jewry. At that point, he split from them, and created the Degel HaTorah party for the "Lithuanian " Haredi
Haredi
Jews (also known as " Mitnagdim " by some). He chose the name Degel HaTorah, meaning "Flag The Torah", to be a contrast to the well-known flag of Israel
Israel
and its connection with the secular-dominated State of Israel
Israel
(an "anti-Torah" entity, in his opinion). Rabbi
Rabbi
Shach was known as an outspoken critic of the secular Israeli way of life.

The UTJ party also had considerable influence on the Israeli Sephardi Jews ' Shas
Shas
party. In fact, the Shas
Shas
party was founded by Rabbi
Rabbi
Shach at an earlier juncture when he was previously also frustrated with the policies of the Hasidic rebbes; so, he turned to the Sephardic Jews, and urged his own Ashkenazi followers at that time, to vote for the new Shas
Shas
party, which they did in record numbers. Later, Shas
Shas
broke with Rabbi
Rabbi
Schach, as it adopted its own independent political stance under Rabbi
Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef . Yet, Shas
Shas
always "looks over its shoulder" to see what the Ashkenazi Haredi
Haredi
parties are up to, and usually goes in the same direction, as it has similar needs and interests within the state.

Haaretz
Haaretz
cited that some women activists have protested the fact that United Torah
Torah
Judaism, along with other ultra-Orthodox parties, refuses to run female candidates for office. United Torah
Torah
Judaism responded that they have the right to follow Halacha (Jewish Laws) of modesty, which separates roles of men and women, and maintain that they don't deny women the right to vote for any other Knesset
Knesset
parties of their choice. They add that ultra-Orthodox women will not vote for them if they elect women.

2004 SPLIT

In January 2004, the party split back into its two factions following a disagreement over how to join Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
's coalition, which had been negotiated by Rabbi
Rabbi
Eliashiv. Rabbi
Rabbi
Eliashiv wanted the five MKs to have a three-month "waiting period" before accepting jobs in the government. Rabbi
Rabbi
Yaakov Aryeh Alter , the Gerrer rebbe, however, thought that all Agudat members should accept positions immediately. The Agudat MKs argued that they should be entitled to follow their own rabbis' ruling, while their Degel HaTorah counterparts accused them of disrespecting Rabbi
Rabbi
Eliashiv. The Agudah faction proceeded to follow the rebbe of Ger's instructions, with MK Yaakov Litzman
Yaakov Litzman
accepting the position as chairman of the Knesset
Knesset
Finance Committee. This infuriated Degel HaTorah and its leaders, and in response they left the party, dissolving a twelve-year-old partnership.

REUNIFICATION AS A PARTY

In December 2005, there was a meeting between representatives of the two factions, presumably to smooth over the ill-feelings of the previous year and to attempt to regroup before the March 2006 elections . A number of issues were worked out, such as Degel HaTorah's insistence on the joint list being equally divided between the two parties. (In the past, Agudat Israel
Israel
has received slightly more votes than Degel HaTorah.) Degel HaTorah has reorganized itself. It has a fully equipped modern party office on Hamabit Street 10 in Jerusalem's Geulah neighborhood. It conducted a party convention, its first in 15 years, in December 2005.

2006 UNITY

In early February 2006, Agudat Israel
Israel
and Degel HaTorah agreed to run together as United Torah
Torah
Judaism, despite the fact that the contentious "sixth seat" issue remained undecided. The two groups finally compromised by proposing dividing the sixth seat between two representatives on a rotating schedule, (as was done in the last Knesset
Knesset
between the Belz and Vizhnitz communities for the fifth seat). This solution seemed to mollify the respective groups and paved the way for the re-establishment of a joint list for the 2006 elections , although the Belz court was reportedly irked that once again, it was being asked to sacrifice part of its representation.

UTJ MKs told reporters that any decision to join future government coalitions will be dependent on achieving two "central posts" to be split between Agudah and Degel. Similarly, in order to avoid the problems that led to the 2004 split, disagreements about joining a coalition will not be determined by a majority vote of MKs, but rather taken to the party's rabbinic leaders.

Various media interviews with the party's Knesset
Knesset
members confirmed that it would strongly consider joining a coalition with the Ehud Olmert -led Kadima
Kadima
party, should it be offered to them after the elections. In March 2006, the rabbinical leaders of UTJ, including Rabbi
Rabbi
Yosef Shalom Eliashiv , issued public declarations urging the Haredi
Haredi
public to vote for the party's list. In the election, the party increased its mandate by one to six seats. Presently, the party is represented more by the Agudah faction, as the sixth seat is being held by Yaakov Cohen, the long-time dean of a Ger yeshiva, bringing the ratio of the faction 4-2 Agudah. This marks the second time since the coalition's founding that Ger has secured two simultaneous MK positions in UTJ, and could indicate an increase in the court's clout and influence.

KNESSET MEMBERS

KNESSET KNESSET MEMBERS COMMENTS

18TH KNESSET (2009) 6 Seats: Yaakov Litzman
Yaakov Litzman
, Moshe Gafni , Meir Porush , Uri Maklev , Eliezer Moses , Yisrael Eichler per list at election committee website. In 2011, per rotation agreement, Porush was replaced by Eichler.

19TH KNESSET (2013) 7 Seats: Yaakov Litzman
Yaakov Litzman
, Moshe Gafni , Meir Porush , Uri Maklev , Eliezer Moses , Yisrael Eichler , Ya\'akov Asher per list at election committee website

20TH KNESSET (2015) 6 Seats: Yaakov Litzman
Yaakov Litzman
, Moshe Gafni , Meir Porush , Uri Maklev , Eliezer Moses , Yisrael Eichler per list at election committee website

SEE ALSO

* Agudath Israel
Israel
of America * Hasidim and Mitnagdim * World Agudath Israel
Israel
* Hardal

REFERENCES

* ^ "Guide to Israel\'s political parties". BBC News. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015. * ^ Ishaan Tharoor (14 March 2015). "A guide to the political parties battling for Israel’s future". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 June 2015. * ^ "United Torah
Torah
Judaism". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2010-04-25. * ^ Allison Kaplan Sommer (8 December 2014). "Threats and backlash for ultra-Orthodox women seeking political voice". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 June 2015. * ^ Telem Yahav (18 December 2012). " Haredi
Haredi
parties: Women have different role". YNET. Retrieved 25 April 2016. * ^ Matthew Wagner (9 February 2006). "Degel, Aguda on verge of reuniting". The Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Post. Retrieved 15 June 2015. * ^ A B B Kahn; Y. Ariel; A. Zissman (15 February 2006). "United Torah
Torah
Jewry and Shabbos — Agudas Yisroel - Degel HaTorah Submits Joint Knesset
Knesset
List". Dei'ah Vedibur. Retrieved 15 June 2015. * ^ Yair Ettinger (9 February 2006). "Deal over final makeup of UTJ list to go down to the wire". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 June 2015. * ^ Hillel Fendel (23 March 2006). "Hareidi UTJ Party Hints: We Will Join Kadima
Kadima
Government". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 15 June 2015.

EXTERNAL LINKS

* United Torah