Litzman to retain ministerial powers under deal struck by PM, Haredim
In bid to hold coalition together, Netanyahu agrees to pass laws that will empower Deri to nullify municipal laws, bar the operation of supermarkets in Tel Aviv on Shabbat; Litzman to be nominated as deputy minister and retain full ministerial powers, despite resignation; status quo to be codified in law.
A series of other agreements were hammered out during the talks between the leaders, including a commitment to pass legislation that will ensure the preservation of the status quo agreement that was reached during the coalition’s formation.
The legislation will officially codify the obligation to abide by the status quo and will be applicable to the entire country.
A second piece of legislation will grant a deputy minister administrative authority over a government ministry, effectively enabling Litzman, who is to be appointed to the post, to act as a minister despite his resignation.
The latest agreement also determined that supermarkets in Tel Aviv would not be closed, putting an end to an issue that had fixated the ultra-Orthodox parties, particularly after recently-retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor rejected an appeal for a further hearing on a petition seeking closure of Tel Aviv's supermarkets on Shabbat.
Her ruling, which was the final one she would make before her departure, effectively ratified a previous verdict issued on the matter, allowing supermarkets to remain open on the Jewish day of rest.
Despite the commitment to keep the supermarkets in business on Shabbat however, it was also agreed that the so-called Supermarket Bill, which grants far-reaching powers to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) to nullify municipal bylaws, would be passed next week.
Additionally, much to the party leaders’ chagrin, the deal allows for soccer games to continue on Shabbat.
“The government headed by Likud is the best government for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the conclusion of the meeting. “The coalition is strong and stable. We will continue to work together for Israeli citizens.”
The parties also agreed that train transportation would not be adversely affected during weekdays and that a proposed piece of legislation sponsored by the Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz would be adopted that would enable Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz to take into consideration a variety of factors when determining the necessity of maintenance work on Israel's trains during Shabbat.
They include public safety, Israeli traditions, employees’ welfare and the degree of harm caused to public space.
Despite the deal, Litzman insisted that the deputy minister law being mooted would not be agreed to by him until the outstanding Shabbat issues were fully resolved.
“I will not agree to discuss under any circumstances, the matter of deputy minister as long as the Shabbat bills are not passed,” Litzman said after the meeting. “The supermarkets and the hours of work and rest, as was demanded by the Haredi factions.”
Also speaking after the meeting, Deri said: “We succeeded in arriving at an agreement on the Supermarket Bill and all other issues, through which we will preserve the status quo throughout all of Israel.
“Shabbat is extremely important to us. This is a Jewish state and the majority of Israeli citizens want to feel Shabbat in the streets and in the cities,” Deri said.
“In the last few weeks, we held discussions and meetings in order to ensure that the status quo would be safeguarded without coercion or wars between Jews.”
Earlier on Sunday, the weekly coalition party leaders' meeting was canceled after it was boycotted by the heads of the Haredi factions—Deri, Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni from the smaller, Lithuanian Degel HaTorah faction.