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Ultra-Orthodox Knesset members shy away from minister title

For many years, Israel's ultra-Orthodox politicians preferred to be nominated deputy ministers and not ministers, shrugging off official responsibility for a Jewish state run differently than their understanding of Jewish-religious rules.
Israeli parliament member Yaakov Litzman stands at a voting booth as he casts his ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem March 17, 2015. Millions of Israelis voted on Tuesday in a tightly fought election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to defeat a strong campaign by the centre-left opposition to deny him a fourth term in office. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR4TNNN
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Israel witnessed a political uproar last week following a debate of a special five-judge panel in the High Court of Justice on July 7. It appeared from the debate that the court would not accept that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also serves as a minister of the offices of foreign affairs, health, communications and regional cooperation.

The petition to the High Court was submitted by Yesh Atid, after Knesset member Yaakov Litzman, the chairman of Yahadut HaTorah, was appointed deputy minister of health “with the status of minister.” Aside from Litzman, two other deputy ministers serve in the government without a minister above them: Deputy Minister of Communications Ofir Akunis and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely. But Yesh Atid’s petition was targeted specifically at the nomination of Litzman, arguing that he is the only one serving as deputy minister and acting as minister.

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