Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) on Thursday morning said the haredi parties are very serious about their threat to bring down the government if work on the Tel Aviv train continues to desecrate Shabbat (the Sabbath).
"I am going to fight for Shabbat until the end," Litzman told Army Radio. "If the Shabbat desecration continues, we will quit the coalition. This was part of our coalition agreements, and I insist it be kept. I hope that we find a solution, because I don't want Shabbat desecration, but I also don't want new elections."
Regarding the disagreements within the haredi parties, Litzman said, "I hear about haredi party members who do not agree with me - I don't know what these [rumors] are about. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) wanted to publicize yesterday that the rumor about him not agreeing with me is false. I assume MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) also agrees with me."
Meanwhile, Deri tweeted that he supports Litzman's fight for the holiness of Shabbat.
"When politicians harm Shabbat and then act superior to those who fight for Shabbat, they ridicule the vast majority of Israeli women, who light Shabbat candles and care about Shabbat's holiness. They also act cruelly towards those who are forced to work on Shabbat, and are not allowed to spend a day of rest with their families each week. It's humiliating," Deri tweeted.
The Lithuanian-haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman, which is supported by the UTJ party, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with the haredim on Wednesday night to discuss the crisis. According to the newspaper, Litzman did not attend the meeting, showing that Gafni is wary of Litzman's threats.
On Wednesday night, Netanyahu met with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) and the heads of the haredi parties in an attempt to solve the crisis.
"We agreed to do everything possible in order to find a solution which honors the Shabbat and does not harm the public," a spokesman for Netanyahu said.