On Wednesday afternoon, the Knesset opposition parties quickly withdrew all their requests to speak from the podium against the coalition’s proposed “Litzman Law,” which will restore MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to the helm of the health ministry without having to take on the title of Minister.
The law allows the statutory powers vested in the minister to be delegated to a deputy minister appointed in an office in which the prime minister serves as the minister (Deputy Minister was the title Litzman had desired in the first place, but then the Supreme Court forced him to be a full minister, a post he had to abandon so as to avoid responsibility for the government’s Shabbat road works).
Since the bill amended a basic law – Israel’s constitutional legislation – it required 61 yea votes to pass. It so happened that many rightwing MKs were away from the plenum, attending the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was shot dead in a terror attack Tuesday night at Havat Gilad in Samaria. Ministers Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, MK Bezalel Samotrich, all three from Habayit Hayehudi, to name three, were at the funeral.
And so the opposition seized the moment and asked to cut the debate on the bill and go directly to a vote – knowing they could carry the day, with the other side caught unsuspecting.
But the coalition members were not born yesterday either, and every one of them demanded to have their moment at the podium, to deliberate the merits of the bill or, in at least one case, spread open a heavy volume of the Talmud and review some halakhic intricacies.
Eventually the vote roll call began, by name, alphabetically, which made for thrilling television (the Knesset channel ran the entire session live). The result turned out to be a major victory for the right: 62 yeas, only 38 nays. And a bunch of moody leftwing politicians who tried to embarrass the Netanyahu government by taking advantage of a sickening murder.
This would be a good time to take a shower.