Meir Porush
Meir PorushEsti Daziovov/TPS

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, said on Wednesday that reports that party leader MK Yaakov Litzman supports Yamina party head MK Naftali Bennett as Prime Minister, do not reflect the official party stance.

Speaking on Kan Moreshet, Porush said that, “Litzman can say whatever he likes about Bennett. But he represents only himself, and I don’t think that anyone else in the party agrees with him on this.”

Litzman’s comments in support of the Yamina party head were made in the wake of the decision of the government’s coronavirus cabinet to increase fines for those found in breach of coronavirus restrictions, including educational institutions. If the Knesset authorizes the government’s decision, fines will rise from NIS 5,000 to NIS 10,000.

Following the decision, MK Litzman, formerly a cabinet minister who resigned his position after the government insisted on imposing a lockdown precisely timed for the start of the High Holidays, said that he would consider supporting an alternative candidate to Netanyahu as prime minister. When asked whom he had in mind, Litzman named Naftali Bennett.

Bennett has been deliberately cementing support in the haredi community over the past months, visiting haredi-majority towns and cities and declaring that he will not tolerate the haredi community being unjustly singled out for censure during the epidemic.

According to a report on Kan 11, Litzman viewed the government decision to increase fines as damaging the sensitive relationship that exists between the Likud and UTJ. At a faction meeting of the UTJ party, Litzman allegedly told fellow party members: “How can Netanyahu make such a decision without consulting with us? Are we invisible?”

Meanwhile, Dafna Liel of Channel 12 News reported on Wednesday that for the time being, the proposal to increase fines will not be brought before the full Knesset for a vote, pending a meeting between the heads of the haredi parties, UTJ and Shas, and the Prime Minister. Shas chairman Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has also sharply condemned plans to increase fines for breaches of coronavirus regulations.