Netanyahu averts coalition crisis over Sabbath 'desecration'

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is also chairman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, speaks to journalists after handing in his resignation to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Litzman resigned on Sunday after the country's railways carried out maintenance work on the Sabbath, when all labor is strictly prohibited by Jewish law. (Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP)

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached an agreement with his ultra-Orthodox allies to avert a potential coalition crisis following the resignation of his health minister over a scandal tied to railway infrastructure work on the Sabbath.

Netanyahu met with his ultra-Orthodox party allies on Sunday and agreed to a series of measures to limit labour on the Jewish Sabbath and preserve the religious status quo in exchange for their continued allegiance.

Ultra-Orthodox Health Minister Yaakov Litzman resigned Sunday over the railway uproar, saying it was a "desecration" that contradicted Jewish values. The move threatened Netanyahu's coalition by paving way for other religious parties to push for concessions.

Netanyahu also agreed to advance a bill allowing Litzman to serve as deputy health minister, despite a court order barring the practice.


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