David Azoulay
David Azoulayi24

Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay denied that he will resign his Knesset seat in order to pass the Supermarket Law, despite multiple reports to the contrary.

Reports had surfaced on Thursday that Azoulay had resigned his Knesset seat but will stay as minister. As Azoulay has been hospitalized due to an undisclosed ailment, he has struggled to be present at the Knesset for crucial votes. His absence caused the Supermarket Law vote to be delayed a week after opposition MKs refused to grant the coalition a pairing, an informal arrangement between government and opposition parties whereby a parliament member agrees or is designated to abstain from voting while a member of the opposing party needs to be absent.

However, Azoulay dismissed the reports as inaccurate and stressed that he had no plans to resign. "There is no basis for a rumor about my expected resignation from the Knesset," he said.

"I intend to attend and vote next week in the Knesset, and the media is expected to conduct a minimal inquiry before the publication of baseless reports."

According to the reports, Azoulay was slated to be replaced by his son Yinon. As Yinon is number 16 on the Shas list, the preceding four members must voluntarily waive their right to enter the Knesset.

The informal pairing custom was the subject of controversy on Monday after Deri asked a rabbi to examine whether MK Yehuda Glick, who is sitting Shiva following the passing of his wife, would be able to vote in the Knesset on a bill to give his office authority over business openings on Shabbat. Deri was subject to vehement attacks following the expose by observers alleging that the move was callous.

As a result, the coalition decided on Monday evening to postpone the vote on the Supermarket Law for one week, after the coalition leaders understood that they would not be able to muster the majority needed to approve the bill.