'Shabbat is important to us - but so is transportation'

Prime Minister praises Health Minister Litzman, following his resignation from gov't over Shabbat rail line work. 'A shame he resigned.'

David Rosenberg,

Binyamin Netanyahu speaks with Yaakov Litzman
Binyamin Netanyahu speaks with Yaakov Litzman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) Sunday, praising his work as a member of the coalition shortly after Litzman formally submitted his resignation from the Likud-led government.

Litzman quit Netanyahu’s government Sunday, after the state-owned Israel Railways conducted infrastructure work over the Sabbath. The resignation takes effect after 48 hours, before which it may be withdrawn.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu lamented Litzman’s decision to resign, calling him an “excellent” minister who had done “a great deal” for Israel.

“I regret Minister Yaakov Litzman's decision to resign from the government. He is an excellent Health Minister and has done a great deal for the health of the citizens of Israel. The national government headed by the Likud is the best government for the State of Israel. I think all the coalition members are interested in its continuation.”

The Prime Minister also touched on the ongoing coalition crisis which led to Litzman’s departure.

Following Litzman’s resignation, Shas chief and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Finance Minister Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) announced they would boycott the coalition’s weekly meeting of party leaders, citing the government’s failure to halt work on the Sabbath by the state-owned Israel Railways company, as well as the coalition’s failure to advance legislation restricting the ability of stores to skirt laws prohibiting business on the Sabbath.

Netanyahu said that the Sabbath (Shabbat) was “important” to his government – but added that it must be weighed against “the needs of all citizens”, including the need for safe transportation.

“The Shabbat is important to us, and so are the needs of all citizens of the Israel, including of course the need of safe and continuous transportation. I believe we will find a rational solution. We are working on it, it's in reach. We will work together in order to continue serving the citizens of Israel.”