(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman Sunday over Israel Railways work done on Shabbat.
Litzman told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office that he had no choice but to resign after Israel Railways continued to employ Jews on the Sabbath. He said he would remain in the coalition and he hopes his reforms in the Health Ministry continue.
“In all generations, the Shabbat has kept us, and it is the basis of the covenant between the Jewish people and God,” Litzman said.
“Unfortunately, Israel Railways has recently made Shabbat the national day of repair work, including unnecessary work done just to anger people. It has been done despite the coalition agreement and the status quo on matters of religion and state.”
In his resignation letter, Litzman lamented that he did not succeed in preventing the repairs from taking place on Shabbat, which he wrote were a red line for him.
In a video Litzman published, he said that as a minister, he cannot accept collective responsibility for the breaking of Shabbat. He said that as health minister he tried to help the entire population, regardless of their sector and affiliation, and had many accomplishments.
Litzman denied to speculate to reporters about how long his United Torah Judaism Party and Shas would stay in the coalition.
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Litzman became health minister in September 2015, after the Supreme Court said he could not run the ministry as a deputy minister.
Netanyahu told the cabinet that he was disappointed Litzman quit and that Shabbat would remain important to his government.
“I am sure we will find a wise solution to the problem,” he said. “We are working on it, and it is at hand.”
Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz denied accusations that he allowed railway work to take place on Shabbat in order to hurt Netanyahu politically.
Netanyahu told Likud ministers he would keep the Health portfolio. He asked them to not speak about what happened with Litzman in order to avoid inflaming tensions.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, who did not hear Netanyahu’s request, because she is in Egypt, said Litzman was one of the best health ministers Israel has had and that she hopes he returns to the cabinet table.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called upon Netanyahu to immediately appoint a full-time health minister, calling it “a matter of life and death.”
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