United Torah Judaism says it won’t vote with coalition in protest of missing funding

Coalition party says its government offices have not yet received cash promised in budget negotiations last month

Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage Meir Porush, center, in Jerusaelm on May 21, 2023.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage Meir Porush, center, in Jerusaelm on May 21, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The United Torah Judaism (UTJ) coalition party announced Tuesday that it would not vote with the coalition until it receives funds that were promised in negotiations over the state budget, which was approved last month.

In a statement, the Haredi party said it would stop backing the government in Knesset votes starting Wednesday.

Without the votes of UTJ’s seven MKs, the 64-strong coalition would not have a majority in the 120-member parliament.

UTJ’s Knesset faction chairman Yitzhak Pindrus conveyed the decision to coalition whip Ofir Katz, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, as well as to Likud MK Dudi Amsalem, who serves as minister for coordinating between the government and the Knesset.

“How is it possible that a month after the approval of the budget, and three weeks since we submitted a detailed document for Jewish heritage activities, the Finance Ministry has not yet approved the transfer of funds for this activity?” UTJ’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Tradition Meir Porush said in the statement.

“This is nothing but a lack of recognition and understanding of the importance of this activity,” Porush said.

During a weekly faction meeting the day before, Porush “brought up the humiliating behavior of treasury officials who are not advancing the budgets promised to United Torah Judaism in the coalition negotiations,” the statement said.

UTJ MK Uri Maklev, who serves as a deputy minister in charge of economic and social development in the ultra-Orthodox community, likewise said at the meeting that his office had not received the promised funding.

A unanimous decision was then made to stop voting with the government until the funds are released, the party said.

The state budget allocated billions of shekels to the ultra-Orthodox community in return for UTJ’s support of the monetary plan which, if not passed, would have triggered fresh elections. The opposition called the budget “reckless,” while treasury officials warned it could lead to lost gross domestic product in the coming years.

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