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)
MK Ya’acov Litzman’s hiatus from the Health Ministry will end up lasting only seven weeks, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners worked out a framework for the haredi lawmaker to return to the cabinet as a deputy minister.
Litzman quit his post as health minister with great fanfare last month, to protest work done by Israel Railways on Shabbat.
But Netanyahu met with Litzman and promised that he would amend existing legislation to permit him to run the ministry as a deputy minister and circumvent a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that barred him from doing so.
Sources in the coalition confirmed a report that the bill would come to a vote this Sunday in the cabinet as well as in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
It will then be brought to the Knesset for a preliminary reading on Monday, following which the House Committee will aim to push it through final readings by January 15, along with the Nation-State Bill and the Jerusalem Bill, which are also changes to Basic Laws and require special majorities in the Knesset.
If everything goes according to plan, Litzman will be able to return to the Health Ministry on January 15, seven weeks after he quit. Since then, his appointees have continued to run the ministry under Netanyahu – who serves as the interim health minister – and would continue to hold the portfolio.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that a deputy minister cannot run a ministry.
The decision came in response to a petition by Yesh Atid.
Lawmakers from Litzman’s ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism faction have historically refrained from holding ministerial positions, because ministers have collective responsibility for government decisions, including those that violate Shabbat. Nevertheless, 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 sect, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, ordered Litzman to resign from his post.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.