MK Ya’akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), who is set to be officially appointed as Health Minister, on Tuesday mocked Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid for helping Litzman upgrade his title from Deputy Minister to Minister.
Litzman previously served as Deputy Health Minister with ministerial powers but, following an appeal from Yesh Atid, the Supreme Court ruled that Litzman must be appointed as a full minister or be forced to vacate his post as Deputy Health Minister.
The UTJ party has traditionally not accepted ministerial positions for ideological reasons. Unlike the Sephardic-haredi Shas party, it does not consider itself "Zionist," although practically speaking it takes part in the Israel political system.
As a result, when UTJ enters a coalition government it stipulates that its MKs should be appointed deputy ministers in ministries they are to control – but with no minister above them, rendering them "acting ministers."
While Lapid may have expected United Torah Judaism’s Council of Torah Sages to reject the Court’s ruling and thus force Litzman out of his role, the rabbinical body did the opposite and accepted the Court’s ruling.
Speaking Tuesday at a business conference at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, Litzman said he believes Lapid now regrets filing the appeal.
"He probably thought the Council of Torah Sages would not allow me to be a minister. This is his only achievement in politics since he founded the Yesh Atid party. Not the economy, not security and not welfare. Only the fact that they added a few shekels to Litzman’s salary. Let him enjoy it,” he said.
The Knesset is expected to vote on Wednesday on Litzman’s appointment as a cabinet minister, following which his appointment as Health Minister will become official.