Swedish Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser (left) and Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (second left) at the Swedish National Day reception..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following months of severe tensions within United Torah Judaism, Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush finally stepped down as an MK on Sunday, submitting his resignation to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, to allow Yaakov Asher, a former MK, to take up his seat in the legislature.
The UTJ Knesset faction is comprised of Agudat Yisrael, representing the hassidic Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community, and Degel Hatorah, representing the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” Ashkenazi community.
Agudah currently has four MKs (including Porush), while Degel has just two. Following Porush’s resignation each will have three seats.
The so-called “Norwegian Law,” passed last July, was supposed to see Porush swiftly resign as an MK, while retaining his deputy-ministerial role, to allow Asher (Degel Hatorah) to gain his seat.
For many months after the law was passed, however, Agudah refused to sanction the process and, according to Degel, made numerous demands of Degel in return for Porush stepping down.
The feud over Knesset seats led to bitter recriminations within UTJ, with Degel and Agudah warring over the rights to various other state positions, such as committee memberships, and publicly berating their opponents.
Late Saturday night, Porush’s office said the deputy- minister had met several times in recent weeks with David Shapira, grandson and senior adviser to the leader of the non-hassidic Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman in order to formulate an agreement.
The deal between the two is based on an agreement between Degel Hatorah and Shlomei Emunim, the grouping of small hassidic groups represented in the Knesset by Porush, regarding various positions within the Independent Education ultra-Orthodox schools network.
“They discussed the heightened tensions that have taken hold of late, and made efforts to reach agreements on different issues currently on the agenda of the haredi public in order to ease the strained relations,” Porush’s office said.