United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism

Leader: Moshe Gafni (Degel Hatorah) and Yaakov Litzman (Agudat Yisrael)
Current Seats: 8
Recommended candidate for prime minister in the Twenty-First Knesset: Benjamin Netanyahu
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

United Torah Judaism is the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox list, a union of two parties: the “Lithuanian” non-Hasidic Degel Hatorah and the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael. Moshe Gafni leads Degel Hatorah and Yaakov Litzman leads Agudat Yisrael, while each party’s respective political infrastructure is subordinate to separate rabbinical leaderships.

UTJ is a union of two ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi parties.

UTJ is a non-Zionist faction which does not endorse the creation of a secular Jewish state. Accordingly, the party maintains no political commitment to Israeli sovereignty over specific territories and the party has been open to concessions in the past. This peculiarity also means that UTJ MKs tend only to be awarded minor portfolios in the cabinet in order to distance themselves as much as possible from the institutions of the State of Israel, and officially serve as deputy ministers rather than as full cabinet ministers.

MK Yaakov Litzman heads Agudat Yisrael, one of UTJ’s constituent factions.

UTJ secured eight seats in the April elections, and is aiming to repeat the same performance in September. Avigdor Liberman, who refused to join a coalition over issues of ultra-Orthodox conscription, is aiming to take the health ministry for his Yisrael Beiteinu party after elections. Notably, this portfolio was previously held by UTJ/Agudat Yisrael leader Yaakov Litzman.

Party List:

1. Yaakov Litzman

2. Moshe Gafni

3. Meir Porush

4. Uri Maklev

5. Yaakov Tessler

6. Yakov Asher

7. Israel Eichler

8. Yitzhak Pindrus

9. Eliyahu Hasid

10. Eilyahu Baruchi




Leader: Aryeh Deri (political), Rabbi Shalom Cohen (spiritual)
Current Seats: 8
Recommended candidate for prime minister in the Twenty-First Knesset: Benjamin Netanyahu
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

Shas is a right-wing ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi political party, currently chaired by Aryeh Deri and directed by a rabbinical body, the Council of Torah Sages.

An Orthodox Mizrahi party, Shas has both a political leadership and a clerical authority, the Council of Torah Sages. The party's spiritual leader is Rabbi Shalom Cohen.

Shas has previously joined coalitions led by both Likud and Labor, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not one of the party’s main priorities. However, longtime Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef did endorse territorial concessions for the sake of peace during the Oslo process. Moreover, several Shas MKs have voiced support for a two-state solution as envisioned by the Geneva Initiative. Nevertheless, the party lacks an official program related to the question of two states, and leans right on other social issues.

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri could face legal troubles, and the Council of Torah Sages may be less willing to help him this time.

Shas decried Avigdor Liberman’s confrontation with the ultra-Orthodox parties during coalition negotiations following the April elections. However, Shas maintains that its primary enemy remains Yair Lapid of Kachol Lavan, owing to Lapid’s past campaigning against ultra-Orthodox hegemony, and that Liberman’s efforts should be ignored.

In recent years, Shas has lately been plagued by internal fractures and legal troubles. Former Shas head Eli Yishai launched a new far-right party, Yachad, in 2015. Meanwhile, the Israel Police have recommended indictments against party leader Aryeh Deri on corruption charges (Deri was previously jailed for corruption). While Deri was previously restored to the Shas leadership by the party’s rabbinical overseers, the Council of Torah Sages have been more tepid in their support for the embattled chairman this time around. Investigations into Deri over graft allegations remain open, with police questioning the Shas leader as recently as June 2019.

Party List:

1. Arye Dery

2. Yitzhak Cohen

3. Meshulam Nahari

4. Yaakov Margi

5. Yoav Ben Tzur

6. Michael Malkieli

7. Moshe Arbel

8. Yinon Azoulay

9. Moshe Abutbul

10. Uriel Busso