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Ketzaleh: Despite Labor, We’re Still Willing to Join

Adar 29, 5769, 25 March 09 05:37by Hillel Fendel
( National Union party head Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) says that despite all, his party is still anxious to “join the government and serve the public by accomplishing — and in the end, that’s what I think will happen.”

“Our talks with the Likud were broken off when Netanyahu suddenly started talking with Labor,” Katz told IsraelNationalNews on Wednesday afternoon. “But Labor’s entry into the coalition does not mean that we are out. We are still waiting for the Likud to contact us and resume the talks, but we can’t force them.”

“The issues between us can be reconciled,” Ketzaleh said. “An agreement between us and the Likud can certainly be signed, enabling us to do what we were elected to do – serve the People of Israel with a strong nationalist government.”

Netanyahu Rejects Anti-NU Demand
Asked if Labor had demanded that the National Union not be included in the coalition, Ketzaleh said, “Such a demand was made, but Netanyahu rejected it.”

“We sense that Netanyahu has now done the same thing he did when he was Prime Minister last time, ten years ago,” Ketzaleh said. “When he needed us, he called on us, and called on the public to vote for him in order to save the Land of Israel – but then took the power we gave him and used it for something else. It appears that now that he won, he has become scared; he would rather have in his government those who fight against the Land of Israel. For instance, he wants Barak as his Defense Minister – the man who engraved on his flag the destruction of outposts in Judea and Samaria, and the man who presided over the war in Gaza but yet did not carry the battle to total victory.”

“And yet despite all,” Ketzaleh emphasized, “we want Netanyahu to be Prime Minister, and we are still very willing to join and take an active part of this government.”

Jewish Home Enters Gov’t
On the other hand, the Jewish Home religious-Zionist party has signed an agreement with the Likud and will join the coalition. It was announced on Wednesday that Party leader Rabbi Dr. Daniel Hershkovitz will be given the Science Ministry, which will be broken off from the current Culture, Science and Sport Ministry.

The agreement with the Jewish Home also stipulates the passage of the so-called Norwegian Law, allowing one minister from each party to resign from the Knesset in favor of a party colleague – and return to the Knesset later on if the minister leaves the government. This will solve an internal Jewish Home problem, enabling former MK Nissan Slomiansky to enter the Knesset in place of Hershkovitz.

UTJ: Talks Are Frozen
Another religious party, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), does not know where its negotiations with the Likud are headed. Party MKs have said that the talks over their entry into the government have all but broken down.

The main sticking point is the question of conversions to Judaism. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the party’s leading Torah authority, ruled unacceptable a clause that would allow local official city rabbis to deal with that issue. Another problem with the proposed clause, from UTJ’s point of view, is that the High Rabbinical Court would not be allowed to retroactively nullify conversions it deems illegal.

Progress was made on one front in the UTJ-Likud talks, however: A party MK will serve as Deputy Minister of Education, if the UTJ enters the coalition.
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