Israel's Deputy Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman (C) from United Torah Judaism party attends a meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem September 13, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
New government legislation will allow United Torah Judaism MK Ya’acov Litzman to be responsible for the Health Ministry as a deputy minister.
The bill is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s compromise deal with haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties following a coalition crisis over public violations of the Sabbath. Other parts of the deal, which include two pieces of legislation giving ministers discretion to stop further violations, passed first readings this week.
The Justice Ministry published the draft bill on Monday night, which would amend Basic Law: Government to allow a deputy minister to have the statutory authority for a ministry when the prime minister holds the portfolio.
The bill seeks to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling from 2015 that a deputy minister cannot run a ministry. The decision came in response to a petition by Yesh Atid against Litzman doing so in the Health Ministry.
Lawmakers from the ultra-Orthodox UTJ faction long did not hold ministerial positions, because ministers have collective responsibility for government decisions, including those that violate Shabbat. However, Litzman joined the cabinet after the Supreme Court decision.
In light of continuing train repairs done on Saturdays, the grand rabbi of the Gur Hassidic community, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, who is known for his militancy on the issue of Shabbat, ordered Litzman, a member of the Gur sect, to resign from his post.
In order to keep UTJ in the coalition, Netanyahu promised to pass a law bringing Litzman back to the Health Ministry as a deputy minister with a minister’s authority.
Netanyahu’s compromise with the haredi parties also blocked some of their initiatives, such that rail repairs would continue on the weekends and haredim would have to stop their efforts to ban professional soccer games on Saturdays