In a shocking twist which set off fireworks throughout the country’s political realm, Justice Hanan Melcer on Tuesday told the state that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot hold on to the several ministries he currently holds without revising the current law.
The statement, which was not a final decision and had no immediate legal consequences, was made at a hearing of petitions filed by Yesh Atid to declare two special arrangements in the current government unconstitutional.
In the current government, UTJ’s Yaakov Litzman serves as deputy health minister, but functions essentially as the health minister based on an arrangement with Netanyahu that formally the prime minister has the title of Health Minister, but informally Litzman will actually run the ministry.
The arrangement has occurred before and is generally understood as empowering UTJ MKs to serve as ministers while not having the official title to satisfy certain religious objections they have to being formally part of a secular Zionist government.
Yesh Atid said this arrangement is unconstitutional and that Litzman must either be a full minister or give up the powers of a minister to someone else and function as a more typical deputy minister, who is much less powerful.
In a related petition, Yesh Atid said that the government cannot have ministers without portfolio, under certain changes to the law, though it had in the past.