Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party sits with other ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government during a Knesset session, November 23.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon resigned from the Knesset Wednesday, but will retain his portfolio as part of the Mini-Norwegian Law, which allows one minister or deputy minister per party to resign in order to allow in a new MK.
Kahlon will be replaced in the legislature by Akram Hasson, a former Likud central committee member who defected to Kadima, becoming an MK for the party for less than a year in 2012.
Hasson announced in December 2014 he was running in the Bayit Yehudi primary but, in the end, did not. Soon after, former defense minister Shaul Mofaz retired from politics and Hasson became Kadima leader, making him the first Druse leader of a Jewish party. Two days later, Hasson moved to Kulanu.
Hasson is currently president of Carmel College and is a former mayor of Carmel.
According to the Mini-Norwegian Law, should Kahlon leave the government or be fired, he may return to the Knesset and Hasson would have to step down.
Meanwhile, tensions are high in United Torah Judaism due to an internal fight between the two constituent parties of the UTJ Knesset faction, Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael which is stalling its utilization of the Norwegian law.
When originally advancing the law, Degel sought to have Deputy Education Minister and UTJ MK Meir Porush stand down as an MK to allow Ya’acov Asher, the director of the Degel party, to take up his place in Knesset.
Asher served as an MK in the last Knesset, but lost his seat when UTJ dropped from seven seats to six in the 2015 general election.
However, Agudat Yisrael has not yet given approval for Porush to step down despite Agudah currently having four MKs and Degel two.
On Wednesday, officials in Degel strongly criticized their counterparts in Agudat Yisrael over this refusal, accusing the party of inventing excuses for not having instructed Porush to resign as an MK.
“There has been no progress, and suddenly [Agudah] is now adding extra conditions in order for Porush to resign,” a senior official in Degel told The Jerusalem Post.
“We invested millions of shekels in an election campaign to increase the haredi vote and to increase our representation in the Knesset, yet this process is still stuck.”
“There is a great deal of resentment and anger among Degel voters and in the party that this lowly type of politics is causing these problems.”
The official also argued that the division of Knesset seats between Degel, which represents the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” haredi community, and Agudat Yisrael which represents the hassidic haredi community, was unfair, saying that “it does not reflect the real size of the haredi communities.”
Historically, the hassidic haredi community has always had greater representation in UTJ since Agudah claimed the haredi community was predominantly hassidic. Degel claims that this is no longer the situation and that, at the very least, there is parity in the size of the two communities.
Agudat Yisrael argues, however, that given a political division in the non-hassidic community that saw thousands of non-hassidic haredi men and women boycott the last election, the current division of seats between Agudat and Degel is justified.
A spokesman for Porush said simply that the rabbis of the Agudah Council of Torah Sages had not authorized him to step down as MK yet, but would not comment further.