Degel Hatorah


Degel Hatorah
   A mainly Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox religious political party that broke away from Agudat Israel and secured two seats in the 1988 Knesset election. The party was founded by Rabbi Eliezer Schach, the head of the Ponevesher Yeshiva and a former member of the presidium of the Council of Torah Sages who decided that Agudat Israel was not loyal to its original ideals and objectives. Among Agudat Israel's perceived faults was its connection to the Habad Hasidim and its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which Rabbi Schach considered heretical. Degel Hatorah supported the Likud-led government established in June 1990. In 1992, Degel Hatorah agreed to participate with Agudat Israel on a joint electoral list known as United Torah Judaism (UTJ), which won four seats in the 13th Knesset. UTJ took four seats in 1996 and agreed to join the coalition government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, though consistent with its non-Zionist orientation, it declined to accept full cabinet portfolios (its leader, Rabbi Meir Porush, served as deputy minister of housing and construction).
   Degel Hatorah, again running on a joint platform with Agudat Israel under the UTJ banner, won a total of five seats in the 15th Knesset in elections held on 17 May 1999. It agreed to join the governing coalition headed by Ehud Barak, though it would not accept a cabinet portfolio. As part of UTJ, Degel Hatorah took five mandates in the 2003 election for the 16th Knesset. It joined Israel's 30th government, headed by Ariel Sharon, on 10 January 2005 but declined to accept any ministerial portfolios. As part of the UTJ electoral coalition with Agudat Israel, Degel HaTorah won six seats in the 17th Knesset in 2006.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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