Bitan: Denies Coalition Crisis, Calls It Just a ‘Fluctuation’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Chairman of the Coalition, MK David Bitan (Likud). (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Coalition Chairman David Bitan pointed the finger of blame for the coalition crisis on Sunday over chilul Shabbos on ministerial dysfunction, which he said will soon be corrected.

Bitan would not admit that a crisis exists – though it was the first time since the government was elected in May 2015 that the weekly meeting of coalition leaders was cancelled for political reasons, after Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman resigned.

Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri also reportedly skipped the cabinet meeting to protest the railway work on Shabbos, and Finance Committee chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni was not expected to attend.

However, Bitan insisted on terming it “a certain fluctuation,” nothing more, according to Ynet.

According to Bitan, blame for problem lies with Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who have responsibility for authorizing infrastructure work on Shabbos for reasons of public safety (pikuach nefesh).

“They could have handled it,” said Bitan, though without saying how. “And then we wouldn’t have gotten to the point where we needed to bring it before the prime minister, since the prime minister can’t offer a solution within a day or two—he doesn’t have the authority, anyway, since the High Court decided that the ministers have that authority.

“I’m not blaming anyone,” claimed Bitan. “I’m just saying.”

In explaining his use of the term “fluctuation,” Bitan pointed out that “right now [Rabbi] Litzman is resigning from the government, not the coalition.” He has relinquished his ministerial responsibilities (effective in 48 hours from Sunday morning) but remains a member of the coalition, thus not affecting the majority, at least for the time being.