Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's holding a meeting at his official Jerusalem residence on Saturday afternoon with ministers before Shabbat ended rilied ultra-Orthodox members of the coalition.
The ministerial meeting was concerning the establishment of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation. It was attended by Likud Ministers of Tourism Yariv Levin, Culture and Sport Miri Regev, and Tzachi Hanegbi, who does not hold a portfolio. Coalition Chairman and fellow Likud member MK David Bitan also attended.
The timing of the meeting incensed ultra-Orthodox parliamentarians. Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) commented, “I was shocked to hear about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with a few government ministers that was held in desecration of Shabbat.
“This is serious damage to the sanctity of Shabbat and a change for the worse from the status quo prevailing throughout the years not to hold official government activities on Shabbat and holidays. Shabbat is a national day of rest, and throughout generations, the people of Israel know to keep the holiness of Shabbat and prevent desecrating it.
“I intend to talk to the prime minister tonight on this subject and ask him for clarification on this serious incident.”
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) also released a statement claiming that he had spoken with Netanyahu on the matter. As the meeting did not relate to matters of life and death, the statement reads, it is “very serious and unprecedented and unacceptable, even if it was an unofficial consultation.”
Gafni’s statement claimed that he received a response from Netanyahu’s people that “a few ministers came to him, and he personally doesn’t desecrate Shabbat. He promises that such an incident won’t recur.”
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)