Yesh Atid members blasted the compromise deal signed between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the United Torah Judaism faction Sunday, saying the agreement to allow UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman to head the health ministry with the title of deputy minister violated a Supreme Court ruling and would wreak havoc on Israel’s health system.
“The court has ruled [in August, 2015 – ed.]that the prime minister has too much to deal with to be able to run the country’s health system. You’ve got to have a full-time minster,” said party chairman Yair Lapid.
“The citizens of this country deserve the best health service possible. It is a matter of life-and-death; we are speaking about a complicated ministry that demands a full-time minister, not some shady political deal. And now, the prime minister comes along and because of all sorts of political issues, he tries to string together one deal on top of another. This is no way to run a country,” Lapid said.
“This is the way a coalition under pressure behaves,” added MK Karin Elharrar. “They agree to pass legislation that violates the status quo and of course to pass more legislation to bypass the High Court of Justice to allow Litzman to serve as deputy minister with the authority of a minister so he’ll feel better about [infrastructure works] that are conducted on Shabbat.
“So go ahead, continue telling yourselves that they care about ordinary citizens. Yeah, right,” Elharrar said.
Earlier Sunday, Litzman resigned from the cabinet to protest infrastructure work on the national train network that had been carried out on Shabbat. Netanyahu then spent most of the day trying to navigate the crisis, eventually reaching a compromise with haredi parties over a number of issues connected to work on the sabbath and maintenance of the so called ‘status quo’ on matters of religion and state.
The resignation spurred Netanyahu to spend most of Sunday navigating the crisis. He canceled a meeting of coalition party heads after Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Moshe Gafni, the head of the Degel Hatorah faction of Litzman’s United Torah Judaism party, along with Litzman himself, said they would boycott the meeting. It was the first time since the current coalition came into power in 2015 that a meeting of party heads had been canceled.
Under the terms of the agreement reached between Netanyahu and the haredi parties, the coalition will push through a law that gives the Interior Minister powers to overrule municipal laws that allow shops to remain open on the sabbath. However the law, will not apply to Tel Aviv. Last month, outgoing Chief Justice Miriam Naor rejected a petition to order Tel Aviv-area supermarkets to remain closed on Shabbat.
With regard to essential works on the sabbath, it was agreed that Labor Minister Haim Katz to take into account a number of factors including Jewish tradition. Soccer matches on the sabbath will continue unhindered.
Agreement was also reached on promoting legislation that would give deputy ministers full ministerial powers. This will allow Litzman to remain in charge of the Health Ministry, but as a deputy minister, a position he held prior to the government being ordered by the Supreme Court in 2016 to appoint a full time minister to the job.
However, Litzman said after the meeting that he would not be willing to discuss the issue of being a deputy minister “until all the sabbath laws have been passed.”
“The coalition is strong and firm and will continue to work for the benefit of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said after the meeting.
By: Ilan Evyatar
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