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Likud Bending to Agudah’s Demands in Order to Get Party into Coalition

Likud is making far-reaching concessions to the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party in order to gain its four Knesset votes for the government.

Although negotiations were continuing Thursday, the two parties are expected to sign coalition agreements Friday morning, to be ratified by the Cabinet on Sunday.

The Agudah’s Council of Torah Sages, which rules the party, gave its politicians the go-ahead Wednesday to join Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s government.

That will broaden Shamir’s political base to 66 of the Knesset’s 120 members. Until now, Shamir has governed with a narrow 62-58 majority.

The Cabinet is expected to approve two new measures demanded by the Agudah: a ban on what the religious consider “indecent” advertising and stricter enforcement of the ban on public transportation on Saturdays.

Likud has also promised that the Knesset will pass “in less than a month” bills forbidding the sale of pork in Israel and tightening already severe restrictions on abortions.

In addition to the religious legislation, each of Agudah’s four Knesset members has been promised an influential position.

They include chairmanship of the Knesset’s Finance Committee and three deputy ministerial posts — labor, social security and Jerusalem affairs.

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