UTJ demands Israel stops generating electricity on Shabbat in coalition deal

The Likud denied the report, stating that Israel's status quo on religion and state matters will remain unchanged.

 United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Likud denied a Monday evening report claiming that prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to halt electricity generation across Israel on Shabbat, among other promises made to the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) United Torah Judaism faction as part of coalition negotiations.

N12 reported that the Likud reached an agreement with UTJ which included several controversial clauses that opposition MKs said were in violation of the status quo, with Prime Minister Yair Lapid saying Netanyahu is "leading us into becoming a halachic state."

As part of the reported agreements that were later denied by the Likud, N12 claimed that Israel's next government will halt the generation of electricity on Shabbat, fund the genizah of holy books and institutes dedicated to answering halachic questions and increase the number of sex-segregated beaches in Israel.

In addition, the government will also take affirmative action to integrate haredi men into state-owned enterprises, among other reported clauses added to the coalition agreement. This joins previously agreed-upon changes such as the decision to double the government subsidy to Haredi yeshiva students.

 United Torah Judaism leaders Yitzhak Goldknopf and Moshe Gafni attend a party meeting at the Knesset, November 21, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) United Torah Judaism leaders Yitzhak Goldknopf and Moshe Gafni attend a party meeting at the Knesset, November 21, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Likud, Netanyahu deny report, say status quo will remain unchanged

Following public outrage over the reported agreement, the Likud released a statement denying the agreement had been finalized, stating that the list published by N12 is a list of UTJ's demands in the negotiations and that Netanyahu has not agreed to enact all the reported changes.

The Likud's statement specifically cited the electricity clause as one of the issues the Likud disagrees with.

UTJ MK Yitzchak Goldknopf, who initially ridiculed Likud's denial by commenting that the agreement is "done" in footage taken in the Knesset, sent out a statement later on Monday night stating that the two parties' negotiation teams are currently meeting to finalize the coalition deal.

The Likud stressed that "any final agreement will maintain the status quo on matters of religion and state."