"The health system is one of the State of Israel's most complicated and problematic systems and it deserves a minister who can fulfill the position with all the necessary authorities and responsibilities required from a minister in the State of Israel.…Of course this isn't a war against the haredim, but against the culture of political tricks and deals."
Above: Rabbi Yaakov Litzman
High Court Rules Netanyahu Political Trick To Allow Haredi Rabbi To Head Israel’s Health Ministry Is Illegal
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
He used his position to protect haredi pedophiles, the tobacco industry and to make money for his hasidic movement's newspaper through a pay-to-play scheme. And now Israel’s Deputy Health Minister, haredi Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, cannot be "deputy minister [of health] acting as [full] minister [of health]," the High Court of Justice ruled today, meaning Litzman will either have to resign or will have to pony up and assume the duties of a full government minister.
The court gave Litzman 60 days to either become a full minister and accept all the ministerial responsibilities that entails or resign, Ha’aretz reported, and officials from the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), which Litzman, a Ger (Gur) hasid co-heads, said the Gerer Rebbe would likely order Litzman to become a full minister.
No member of UTJ has ever been a full minister because the party’s rabbinic leaders did not want its politicians to have to vote on issues, primarily security issues or war and peace, when haredim refuse to serve in the IDF or play other national service roles.
So Prime Minister Netanyhu has used a legal fiction – "deputy minister acting as minister" – to allow Litzman twice to run the Ministry of Health. The first time, the High Court told Netanyahu doing this was illegal. But Netanyahu didn’t listen and left Litzman in place. UTJ was not part of the next coalition government, though, and the issue died down.
But after the elections early this year, UTJ became a pivotal member of Netanyahu’s new coalition, which is heavily dependent on haredi parties for its survivial. Disregarding the High Court’s earlier ruling, Netanyahu appointed Litzman as deputy minister of health acting as minister – even though while serving as "deputy minister acting as minister" in 2009, Litzman tried to force psychiatrists to change their evaluations of haredi pedophiles to show they were less dangerous to society than they actually were. This did not stop Netanyahu from reappointing the unrepentant Litzman this year. After that reappointment, Litzman was involved in a kickback/pay for access scheme with Hamodia, the large haredi newspaper controlled by Gur hasidim and then tried to block a bill that would have banned tobacco ads. Litzman allegedly did this because Hamodia makes a lot of money by publishing tobacco ads.
The centrist Yesh Atid Party, which is not part of the coalition, petitioned the High Court against Litzman’s appointment. Netanyahu refused to act to rectify his illegal appointment and the High Court was forced to issue a ruling ordering Litzman’s removal to go into effect within 60 days, unless Litzman assumes the duties and the title of full minister.
Netanyahu, who by default was Minister of Health on paper, also holds several other ministerial portfolios, including Foreign Minister and Minister of Communications. It is unclear how this ruling will impact those.
The Prime Minister's Office reportedly said in in a statement that the High Court’s ruling will be respected.
In a statement, the Yesh Atid Party reportedly applauded the High Court ruling.
"The health system is one of the State of Israel's most complicated and problematic systems and it deserves a minister who can fulfill the position with all the necessary authorities and responsibilities required from a minister in the State of Israel.…Of course this isn't a war against the haredim, but against the culture of political tricks and deals," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is using his narrow government to try to implement a new law it passed that would allow ministers to not be elected members of Knesset. This would allow Netanyahu to force sitting ministers to resign from the Knesset and would allow his coalition to bring more politicians into the Knesset and onto the state’s payroll.