Ultra-Orthodox MK Ravitz Announces Retirement From Knesset

Chairman of the Degel Hatorah party says his decision to retire is due to personal reasons, not result of party conflict.

MK Avraham Ravitz, chairman of the Degel Hatorah party, has decided to retire at the end of the current Knesset term after serving 20 years in the Knesset.

Ravitz, 74, announced his decision to leaders of the Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, clarifying that despite his retirement from parliamentary life he intends to carry on as head of the party and continue his service to the public.

The retirement of Ravitz, one of the most dominant representatives and sharpest speakers of the ultra-orthodox community, is taking place against a fierce internal conflict between a portion of the United Torah Judaism party regarding the Jerusalem electoral system. The clash intensified with Ultra-Orthodox MK Meir Porush losing to secular candidate Nir Barkat in the recent municipal elections.

Nonetheless, Ravitz said to Haaretz though his son, Israel, that his retirement is due to personal reasons and not as a consequence of the crisis.

Degel Hatorah, which together with Agudath Israel makes up United Torah Judaism, is also represented by MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev.

Ravitz is the first chairman of Degel Hatorah that was established in 1988 after the deceased Lithuanian-born Israeli Orthodox leader Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Schach announced the split of the Lithuanian members from Agudath Israel.

Ravitz held the senior position of deputy housing minister, chairman of the finance committee and deputy chairman of the Knesset. Rabbi Ravitz, born in Tel Aviv and living in Jerusalem, is a gradate of Hebron yeshiva and prior to his election to the Knesset, was the head of Or Sameach yeshiva in Jerusalem and a partner in the construction company that built projects for the Ultra-Orthodox community.