MK Dov Lipman of the Yesh Atid party on Thursday flatly dismissed a claim by a Haredi lawmaker that he had issued a death threat against him during a heated Knesset session.
The US-born Lipman told The Times of Israel that the exchange, which was said to have taken place Wednesday, “didn’t happen” as United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Litzman had described it.
“It’s actually a non-story,” he declared.
The ultra-Orthodox Kikar HaShabat website reported that following a stormy Knesset debate discussion about tax breaks for new homeowners — during which the Haredi MKs were said to have insulted Lipman repeatedly, referring to him as “[Finance Minister] Yair Lapid’s Haredi” — Lipman approached Litzman and asked him to stop the name-calling.
“He came over to me and said that if I don’t stop mocking him, he’ll do something to me. I saw it as a death threat,” Litzman told the Haredi website. “I think he is unstable. I will file a complaint and the Knesset will take care of it.”
But Lipman said Thursday that while he did head over to Litzman in the aftermath of the discussion, the conversation between them did not transpire as Litzman claimed. He averred that he hadn’t threatened Litzman at any point in the conversation.
“I didn’t say anything that resembled it,” he said. “It’s a little bit bizarre that someone can invent something like that.”
The conversation, he said, had taken place in the context of a committee hearing dealing with an issue that had been “going on all day.” During the hearing, Lipman said, several ultra-Orthodox MKs “went after” him, as he said they often do.
“I usually sit quietly,” Lipman explained. This time, however, Litzman ‘”crossed a certain line, and I said, ‘please stop.'”
Lipman said he had gone over to Litzman to ask him to limit his criticism of him to the issue at hand rather than insulting him personally.
“I don’t remember the exact words,” Lipman admitted, but said he had asked the Haredi lawmaker to “keep the criticism to the subject at hand” and to “stop with the personal attacks,” which the Yesh Atid MK stressed were “of a very personal nature.”
Litzman told Kikar HaShabat that he had requested a Knesset security detail after the conversation. But Lipman said nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, adding that arguments between MKs are “just a normal thing that happens in the course of the Knesset.”
He stressed the conversation he had with Litzman, though not exactly friendly in nature, was “not relating to any threat whatsoever.”
Lipman added that when he heard the ultra-Orthodox lawmaker’s claims, he asked the MK who had been sitting next to Litzman when the conversation took place if anything he had said could have been construed as a death threat — just to be on the safe side.
“The MK said I pointed my finger at [Litzman] and that it seemed like a threat,” an incredulous Lipman said, concluding that he had “nothing further to comment about something which is really invented.”
The relationship between the ultra-Orthodox MKs of United Torah Judaism and Lipman — himself an Orthodox rabbi — has been strained, due to Yesh Atid’s spearheading of a bill extending mandatory military or national service to the ultra-Orthodox community.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.