United Torah Judaism Party (Yahadut ha-Torah; also known as United Torah List)
UNITED TORAH JUDAISM PARTY (Yahadut ha-Torah; also known as United Torah List)
After winning five seats in the Knesset, this bloc enabled the religious parties to remain unavoidable partners in Israeli political life, a phenomenon well established in Israel's long history of coalition governments. Confronted with divergences among its members, United Torah Judaism brought them together on the single issue of respect for the status quo by signing an agreement in 1948 between the Israeli government and the religious movements.
On 30 May 1996 the bloc won four seats in the Knesset—occupied by Meir Porush and Shmuel Halpert for Agudat Israel, and Avraham Ravitz and Moshe Gaoni for Degel ha-Torah. Three years later the bloc was renamed United Torah List, and won five seats in the general elections of 17 May 1999, which gave victory to Labor Party leader Ehud Barak. A few weeks later, United Torah List agreed to support the Barak government in exchange for lowering the quota of orthodox students in the army, but on the following 5 September, United Torah List quit the coalition government of Ehud Barak.
After the election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in mid-March 2001, United Torah List refused to join a national unity government judging that the posts it was offered were insufficient, but did agree to support it in the Knesset. Led by Avraham Ravitz, United Torah List often joined SHAS, Moriah, and the National Religious Party (NRP) in a bloc known as the Torah Front. In the 2003 elections, United Torah List received 4.3 percent of the vote (five Knesset seats).