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Shas, UTJ sign vote-sharing agreement ahead of election

The two ultra-Orthodox parties vow to continue to cooperate with each other in the next Knesset session

Shas party leader Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (R) United Torah Judaism party Mk Yaakov Litzman during a joint party meeting at the Knesset on June 19, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas party leader Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (R) United Torah Judaism party Mk Yaakov Litzman during a joint party meeting at the Knesset on June 19, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The two ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism on Tuesday signed a surplus vote-sharing agreement and vowed to continue cooperation in the next Knesset.

The deal was inked by Shas chief Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and UTJ head Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who said that the deal symbolizes the cooperation between the parties and that they would “continue to act together in the next Knesset with full cooperation.”

Vote-sharing agreements, which are widely used in Israeli elections, allow parties to ensure that extra votes that don’t add up to enough for a Knesset seat don’t go to waste. Instead a party is permitted to share these votes through a special agreement with another party.

Likud has signed one with the right-wing Yamina party, Blue and White have an agreement with Yisrael Beytenu, and the Democratic Camp will share votes with the Labor-Gesher alliance.

Under law, the combined leftover votes go to the party closest to winning another seat, and are often sufficient to add that seat to its tally, making them potentially decisive in a close race.

Polls have consistently shown both ultra-Orthodox parties receiving seven or eight seats each in the September 17 elections.

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