Ya’acov Litzman resigns as government prepares to vote on coronavirus lockdown


Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) announced that he was resigning from the coalition, writing in his resignation letter that he believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intended to soon leaving to have a full lockdown during the holidays for lack of appreciation for religious observance over other issues that are not harmed in the fight against the coronavirus. “My heart is with the thousands of Jews who come to the synagogue once a year and this year will not come at all due to the lockdown,” Litzman wrote. “I have warned of a vacation lockdown in every forum possible and stressed that while it was necessary to lock in completely, one would not have to wait for an increase in infection to reach this rate. He said a shutdown should have been made. a month ago and not during the Great Holy Days. He added that when he made his initial plea to the coronavirus commissioner, Professor Ronni Gamzu, the commissioner denied that was his intention. Litzman said in retrospect he was right. “This is why I cannot continue to serve as a minister and I have decided to resign from the government and return to the Knesset,” he concluded. has been replaced by the next candidate on the UTJ list, Eliyahu Baruchi, who will automatically leave the Knesset when Litzman’s resignation letter becomes official. The resignation would take effect in 48 hours. The letter came just hours before a final decision was made on whether Israel will go into lockdown during the great holy days, ministers from all walks of life are raising their voices. vote – indicating that there is little consensus on the plan adopted last Thursday by the coronavirus cabinet.

Some ministers, like Litzman, oppose the shutdown on religious grounds. Others, like Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay (Blue and White) and Economy Minister Amir Peretz (Labor), say the damage to Israel’s economy will be too severe for the country is recovering. But Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said: “I have signed the proposal that will be submitted to the government … and I say it unequivocally – there will be no negotiations”.

The decision is due before 11 p.m. Sunday to allow Netanyahu to leave for the United States, where he is expected to sign two peace agreements, one with the United Arab Emirates and the other with Bahrain. If passed, the closure would begin at 6 a.m. on Friday, September 18: Rosh Hashanah begins that evening.

Litzman told Netanyahu earlier on Sunday that if the government decides to close the doors during the holidays to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, his party will quit the coalition.

He made his first comments earlier this month in an interview with Hamodia, a newspaper of the Agudath Israel movement that he heads.

“The approval of mass protests on Balfour as well as the opening of cultural centers, while imposing continued restrictions on synagogues and preventing movement to Uman, have been destroyed. [the haredi] public confidence in the system, ”Litzman said.

In contrast, Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas) called on his supporters to abide by the guidelines issued by the government.

Speaking at a weekly lecture given to Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, he said that failure to follow Ministry of Health guidelines is “murder”.

“We are dealing with life here … God will help us, if we continue [the directives]. It’s not a joke, ”he says.

Deri told stories of great rabbis who died from the virus and condemned those people who said the coronavirus was not real. He promised his constituency that the government would do what it could to keep synagogues open – but not in their usual format. Still, he told them that this year they would have to face it.

“There is no choice,” he continued. “We have to close. After receiving Litzman’s letter, Deri and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin expressed dismay at Litzman’s decision and said they would work to prevent him from leaving government. here against Judaism. We are all in favor of the fight against the virus. ”

Peretz said he wanted a reduced shutdown: “I support an overnight shutdown in which about 80% of the economy remains open,” Peretz said on Saturday evening. “Hundreds of thousands of employees and freelancers are in existential angst. The economic coronavirus pandemic is no less serious than the health pandemic. ”

He said he called on Netanyahu to immediately create a team and work out a clear compensation package for everyone.

Likewise, Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir (Blue and White) argued on Saturday evening that a “complete shutdown of the whole country during the holidays is too extreme a step and has economic implications from which entire industries will not recover.

Zamir denounced “scandalous violations” of Ministry of Health guidelines, from nightclub parties to weddings, and against ministers who failed to be role models.

“No one is a role model here, including some of my Knesset and government colleagues, and this is the result,” he said. But he said he will vote against the decision to impose the shutdown nonetheless. And, finally, Education Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud) is pushing back only one aspect of the closure: the closure of schools on Wednesday as opposed to Friday, when the rest of the closure is expected to begin.”Israel’s education system and students are our future and our advantage, they are not the cause of disease,” Gallant tweeted Sunday morning. “I will demand at the cabinet meeting that studies take place next Friday, in order to allow students an educational continuum and financial stability for their parents. “

On Saturday night, Edelstein was interviewed by N12’s Dana Weiss. He said that despite the noise he would not accept any negotiations. “As soon as we start setting the conditions for one area or another, we will collapse the whole proposal and, as a result, we will collapse the healthcare system,” he said. Edelstein criticized the public for not following the guidelines “and so we are closing … I know closing is expensive. For three months we tried to prevent it, but we did not succeed. The finance ministry estimated that the shutdown would cost the country around NIS 20 billion.


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