Former Israeli Housing Minister to Reassume Post Two Months After Resigning

Yaakov Litzman says he stepped down because of ban on praying in synagogues during High Holy Days, also resigned as health minister this year

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
Yaakov Litzman at the Knesset, May 2020.
Yaakov Litzman at the Knesset, May 2020.Credit: Adina Valman / Knesset
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Lawmaker Yaakov Litzman will return to the role of Israel's housing and construction minister, two months after leaving the post and seven months after his resignation as health minister.

Litzman is the head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party.

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Litzman stepped down in September, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it was in protest of the government’s policy that “will prevent hundred of thousands of Jews, from all populations and sectors, from praying in synagogues” on Rosh Hashanah.

In April, he announced his resignation as health minister after serving in that ministry for years, saying that he felt "satisfied with the policies that [his administration] has led during the coronavirus crisis."

Speculation arose, however, that the resignation had more to do with the erosion of his own position inside the court of Rabbi Yaakov Alter, leader of Ger, the most powerful Hasidic sect in Israel. A source in the Ger community said Litzman was looking for a reason to resign because he suspected he would be indicted over allegations that he his clout at the Health Ministry to influence the professional opinions of his subordinates, and did not want Netanyahu to fire him.

He was heavily criticized for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. In its early stages, he excluded the ultra-Orthodox community from the country’s social distancing regulations, allowing public ritual bath houses and synagogues to remain open, even promising that the messiah would come and put an end to the pandemic.

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