Bill That Paves Way for Rabbi Litzman to Return as Deputy Minister Passes First Reading

Rabbi Yaakov Litzman waves to journalists in the Knesset after handing in his resignation in November. (Reuters/Gali Tibbon/Pool)

After the passage of the Supermarkets Bill early Tuesday, the Knesset turned its attention to its next order of business – a bill that would allow a minister to offload responsibilities on a deputy minister. As a result, MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman will be able to return to his original position in the government as Deputy Health Minister, after having resigned in recent weeks as Health Minister.

Under the law, which easily passed on its first reading, a minister will have the right to assign responsibilities to a deputy minister,  including presenting initial versions of laws to government committees, to sign official documents, and to hire personnel – basically to act as a minister in all but name.

Hadashot News quoted government officials as saying that the bill was aimed specifically at getting Rabbi Litzman back in the Health Ministry, after he resigned as Health Minister in November over the failure of the government to halt ongoing Israel Railways infrastructure work on Shabbos.

Rabbi Litzman had been a minister since August 2015, when the High Court ruled that a deputy minister could not function in the role of minister without taking on the title. As a result of the decision, Rabbi Litzman agreed to take the title of minister from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had been Health Minister until then.

With the resignation of Rabbi Litzman, Netanyahu again took on the job, saying that he hoped he could persuade Rabbi Litzman to return to the ministry.

With the passage of two Shabbos-related bills – the Supermarkets Bill and the Jewish Tradition Bill, which requires that the values of Jewish tradition be an important factor in issuing state work permits for Shabbos – government officials feel that Rabbi Litzman could now return to his previous job without qualms.

Sources in UTJ told Hadashot News that just as Rabbi Litzman consulted with Gedolei Yisrael before he took on the job of minister, and when he resigned, he would do the same if asked to return as Deputy Health Minister.

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