JERUSALEM – The Israeli health minister who heads an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party resigned on Sunday in protest over railway maintenance work on the Sabbath.
Yaakov Litzman, a rabbi and member of parliament from the United Torah Judaism party, explained he resigned because the Israeli government has continued to perform railway maintenance work on the Sabbath, which is a day set aside for rest and worship in Judaism.
He asserted that Jews throughout history had kept the Sabbath as a pact between the Jewish people and God.
The so-called ‘Sabbath war’ has shaken the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition have demanded respect for the Jewish day of rest in the face of moves by the government to allow for railway maintenance and some supermarkets to remain open.
Despite Netanyahu’s attempts to prevent Litzman from carrying out his threat to resign over the weekend, the minister submitted his resignation on Sunday morning to the cabinet.
The ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas of the coalition government have a total of 13 out of the 66 seats in the Israeli parliament.
For the time being, United Torah Judaism will remain in the coalition.