The Knesset passed legislation Wednesday enabling MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman to return to the helm of the Health Ministry as a deputy minister with a minister’s powers. Rabbi Litzman had said he would only return to the post after the laws enhancing shemiras Shabbos were to pass in the Knesset.
The bill was approved 62 to 38. The coalition needed a 61-MK majority to pass the legislation, as it was an amendment to a Basic Law.
Taking advantage of the fact that Jewish Home MKs were attending the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, Hy”d, the opposition’s parties withdrew all reservations to the bill without warning and requested that the voting begin immediately.
The maneuver was initiated by Zionist Camp faction head MK Yoel Chasson and Yesh Atid faction head MK Ofer Shelach.
But the plan was thwarted by independent MK Orly Levy-Abekasis who stalled for time, delaying the vote. While she was speaking at the podium, coalition heads phoned the missing MKs, ordering them to quickly return to the Knesset for the vote.
Rabbi Litzman resigned as health minister in late November over the failure of the government to halt 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.
With the resignation of Rabbi Litzman in November, Netanyahu again took on the job, saying that he hoped he could persuade Rabbi Litzman to return to the ministry.
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.