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Israel Political Parties: United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism (UTJ; Yahadut HaTorah Hameukhedet, in Hebrew) was originally formed in 1992 as an alliance between two ultra-Orthodox political parties - Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah.  The party is currently lead by Yaakov Litzman.

UTJ represents the Israel's growing ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, community. It opposes the separation of religion and state, civil marriage, drafting ultra-Orthodox men for military service and any changes to laws that prohibit businesses from opening on Sabbath and holidays. The party has been successful in securing financial aid for the ultra-Orthodox community, including government stipends for large families. The party advocates for more inclusion of Jewish law within the frame of the state, saying that it aspires to “resolve, in the spirit of the Torah and the commandments, all issues that arise in Jewish life.”

UTJ has said that it is willing to join coalition governments that are dedicated to engaging the Palestinians in peace negotiations, primarily because the social and religious policies it pursues are a greater priority to the party and its constituency.

In both the 1992 elections and 1996 elections, UTJ won four seats in the Knesset; and in the 1999 elections the party won five.  In 2004, UTJ joined the coalition of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and subsequently divided itself back into the original Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah parties. The split, however, did not last long and the two parties reunited to run on a joint ticket for the 2006 elections during which they won 6 seats. In the 2009 elections, the party lost one mandate but still won representation of five seats in the Knesset.  In April 2009, UTJ joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition.

In the January 2013 elections, UTJ regained its lost seat from 2009 and one more, winning a total of 7 seats in the Knesset.

UTJ came in third to last place during the 2015 Knesset elections, and will have six representatives sitting in the 20th Knesset.

Sources: The Israel Project; Knesset; Wikipedia