No, minister!

By way of follow up to my Yes, minister? post, here’s the almost inevitable outcome as reported by Times of Israel:

Deputy Health Minister Litzman to become full minister

In response to landmark court ruling, ultra-Orthodox lawmaker becomes the first to receive rabbis’ approval to enter cabinet

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party on Thursday said that he had received rabbinical approval to serve as health minister in the cabinet.

“I accept the decision by the Council of Torah Sages and have answered positively the request of the prime minister, and will thus soon serve as health minister,” he said.

His announcement came following a ruling by the High Court of Justice preventing deputy ministers from fulfilling the role of ministers. Litzman, while nominally a deputy minister, held a minister’s authority in the Health Ministry. Lawmakers from his party have previously avoided ministerial positions due to their community’s reluctance to grant full legitimacy to a secular Jewish state.

On Thursday, Litzman said that he “respects” the demand of the High Court of Justice that he become a minister, saying, “As far as I’m concerned there is no change in my position.

“I served and will continue to serve the citizens of Israel exactly as I did in the past. In my view, a deputy minister in the capacity of minister is a health minister in every respect,” he added.

The court’s decision to ban the practice of granting a minister’s authority to a deputy minister came following a petition by the Yesh Atid party, which held the health ministership in the previous coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The petition demanded that the court prevent Netanyahu from taking on any cabinet roles beyond the premiership. In addition to being the nominal health minister, Netanyahu has also been serving as health minister, foreign minister, communications minister and the minister for regional cooperation.

On Sunday, the High Court of Justice ruled that Yaakov Litzman cannot continue to serve as deputy health minister with no presiding minister, and gave the government 60 days to fill the post.

In their decision, the five justices ruled that the current setup was “unlawful.”

“If you ask any hospital or citizen, they will tell you that the person governing the Health Ministry is Litzman and not Netanyahu,” Supreme Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein said during the hearing.

Let’s be clear. First it wasn’t right to be a minister. Now, faced with the option of staying true to their principles, and losing the post, or changing their principles, the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party and Yaakov Litzman changed their principles. What a bunch of hypocrites.

And what is worse, is that they knew it was illegal because the court had already ruled against the charade in a previous government. (See my earlier post.)

Yesh Atid hailed the court’s decision as a “triumph of the public interest over the political interest.

“The healthcare system is one of the most complicated and problematic in Israel, and it deserves a full minister with all the authority and responsibility required of a minister in the State of Israel,” the party said in a statement on Sunday. “Of course this is not meant as a war against the ultra-Orthodox, but rather against the culture of backroom deals.”

On this, I am 100% with Lapid. He called it right. Well done to Lapid and Yesh Atid.

Litzman on Thursday afternoon mocked the Yesh Atid petition, telling Channel 2 that “the only achievement of [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid is that he added a little money to my paycheck.”

And that is rather nasty, isn’t it? It’s almost as if Litzman doesn’t like Lapid. Or fears him. Why might he fear Lapid?

Well, I suspect that part of it is that Lapid has long campaigned for a sharing of the burden, and UTJ and Litzman are opposed to that. What is worse, from Litzman;s point of view, is that Yair Lapid has principles. And he will stick to them. So the threat is not going away.

Besides, Yaakov Litzman, whatever happened to lashan hara? I may not be keeping up with the mitzvah, but you are not setting much of an example!

In any event, on the facts, Litzman is also wrong.

No, minister, it is not that your salary has been enhanced; instead it is that you and your party have been shown up to be hypocrites and a dreadful example of how not to behave.

Judaism? Not mine, it isn’t.

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Yes, Minister?

Source: Wikimedia

Yaakov Litzman Source: Wikimedia

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) is an Israeli political party that, like all others, craves power. However, because its rabbonim do not want its members to vote on matters like the IDF and security – which they would have to do as full ministers – no UTJ member has served as a full minister. Instead, somebody came up with a trick: “deputy minister acting as minister.” Deputy ministers do not get a vote. (So, in the wonderful world of UTJ, their hands are clean. Like hell they are! What a dirty, hypocritical, immoral, trick.)

As I understand it, in previous governments Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed one such member of UTJ, Yaakov Litzman, to be in charge of the Ministry of Health, twice, using this trick. The High Court previously ruled that this was illegal, but Bibi ignored the court and nobody followed up. Litzman remained in charge. So much for the rule of law. UTJ was not part of the next coalition government, though, and the issue went away.

This time around, following the last elections, Bibi ran the same trick – for the benefit of UTJ and not Bibi, it has to be said. Litzman was appointed as deputy minister acting as minister.

Enter Yesh Atid. Leader Yair Lapid took the matter to court. The good news is that the High Court followed its earlier ruling. From YNET:

Supreme Court orders health minister appointment

The Israeli Supreme Court, in its capacity as High Court of Justice, ruled that Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party cannot continue to serve as Deputy Minister with Minister powers.

In a dramatic decision handed out by a five-judge panel, the Supreme Court ruled Sunday that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the haredi United Torah Judaism party must cease to be a deputy within two months.

The court added that Mr. Litzman can legally be appointed as a full minister, which is the most likely course of action, though it would be a first for United Torah Judaism.

I’d rather we had no need to involve Litzman and UTJ (see here and here for further background) but at least there is some progress on reinstating the rule of law, and more normal civilized behavior. For now.

And if Litzman does become the full minister? Well, yes minister, it will underline how much hypocrisy there is the world of UTJ.

Well done to Yesh Atid.

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