Yaakov Litzman, United Torah Judaism

Who is Yaakov Litzman?

Yaakov Litzman  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THEO FREUD)
Yaakov Litzman
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One of the stand-out issues for United Torah Judaism and its leadership in the next Knesset will be to guarantee the continuation of mass exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, which was struck down by the High Court of Justice in 2018 and must now be re-legislated in some way.
During coalition negotiations after the April election, UTJ also demanded legislation that would allow gender-separate attendance at state-funded cultural events, after several high profile incidents in which such arrangements were rejected by the courts.
It is highly likely that Litzman will make similar demands in the coming coalition negotiations.
UTJ will also demand its traditional veto over matters of religion and state, which has of late also been granted to other coalition parties due to the extreme societal sensitivity over such issues.
Religious pluralism, recognition of the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, changes to Jewish conversion, and reforms to the provision of kashrut services are all issues where UTJ will seek to block changes to the current situation, known as the status quo.
Litzman, who is deputy health minister in charge of the health ministry, has also demanded increased budgets for health services.
Litzman and UTJ leaders have repeatedly stated that they will back only Netanyahu for prime minister, but the party is renowned for its political pragmatism in order to obtain its goals, and has sat in left-wing governments in the past.
Although it says it will not sit with Blue and White co-chair Yair Lapid, if that party was the only available option compromises could be made.