One Month After Announcing Resignation, Labor’s Itzik Shmuli Is Still in Cabinet

‘I was asked not to abandon my post,’ says the Labor lawmaker, who has not publicly recanted from his original decision to immediately step down

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Itzik Shmuli in May 2020.
Itzik Shmuli in May 2020.Credit: Yossi Zamir / GPO
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

In early February, Social Affairs Minister and Labor party lawmaker Itzik Shmuli announced that, in accordance with new party guidelines, he would be resigning from his government position.

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This came a week after the election of Merav Michaeli, who made the decision that all Labor party members should resign from the Netanyahu-led government. In the Facebook post announcing his decision, Shmuli also said he would take a break from politics and even apologized for joining the coalition.

“I respect the democratic decision that was made, and in light of the party institutions’ decision, I intend to resign my membership in the cabinet as soon as possible,” he wrote. “Public leaders must also know how to acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility. Therefore, I have no intention of staying on or of running in the upcoming election.”

But more than a month later, and with the Knesset election just 20 days away, Shmuli still hasn’t submitted his letter of resignation to the cabinet or given any indication of when he will do so. Nor has he asked the party’s institutions for permission to stay on or informed the public that he has changed his mind.

“I was asked not to abandon the Social Affairs Ministry at this time and to wait until a replacement or an acting minister took office, in order to avoid harming the population groups the ministry cares for,” he said on Thursday in response to Haaretz’s questions. “My decision to take a break from politics and not to run in this election still stands.”

When the governing coalition was formed last year, two of Labor’s three Knesset members decided to join it – Shmuli and then-party chairman Amir Peretz. But Michaeli refused, opting instead to remain by herself in the opposition.

Peretz, unlike Shmuli, never agreed to last month’s decision that Labor’s ministers should resign. Instead, he announced that he was quitting the party and would remain a minister.

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