Haredi Political Leader Litzman Says He Won’t Run for Knesset Again

Litzman, suspected of attempting to block the extradition to Australia of alleged sex abuser Malka Leifer, denies that his decision was related to the ongoing criminal case against him

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Agudat Yisrael Chairman Yaakov Litzman at the Knesset, in July.
Agudat Yisrael Chairman Yaakov Litzman at the Knesset, in July.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Agudat Yisrael Chairman Yaakov Litzman said on Sunday that he would not run again for Knesset but said the decision was not connected with a police probe against him.

“If there are new elections, I’m not running. I’m not going to be in the Knesset again,” the Haredi political leader said in an interview to the Knesset Channel.

He denied that his decision was related to the criminal case underway against him or that a plea bargain is in the making. When asked if he would retire now if a plea deal is reached, he replied, “Did I do something? I’m leaving next term with no connection to any plea deals. I don’t have a plea deal.”

Litzman is suspected of attempting, when he was deputy health minister in the last government, to block the extradition to Australia of Malka Leifer, who was accused of sex crimes against minors and like him is a member of the Gur Hasidic sect. In addition, Litzman is suspected of attempting to prevent the closure of a delicatessen owned by an associate of his, despite severe health code violations found on the premises. However, a police recommendation to indict Litzman for attempted bribery of Health Ministry workers was rejected.

Earlier this year Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit held a pre-indictment hearing for Litzman. Should his arguments be rejected, he will be indicted.

Earlier on Sunday, the State Prosecutor indicted Shas leader Arye Dery for tax violations following a plea bargain he reached with prosecutors last week. Under the deal, Dery will resign from Knesset, and the attorney general will not to ask the court to rule now on whether moral turpitude is attached to his offenses.

Dery is accused of not reporting the full 1.55 million shekels ($490,000) he received from selling an apartment in Jerusalem to his brother, Shlomo Dery. In addition, he is accused of failing to report income he received from the U.S. finance firm Green Ocean, which carried a tax liability of some 530,000 shekels.

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