Haredi MK Yaakov Litzman says he will not run for Knesset again

UTJ’s former health minister, 73, says his announcement has nothing to do with looming charges against him for obstruction of justice and breach of trust

UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman seen in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman seen in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Litzman announced Sunday live on television that he would not run in any upcoming election.

“If there are new elections, I won’t be running,” the 73-year-old lawmaker told the Knesset Channel in an interview.

“I’m not going to the Knesset again. At my age… I’ve served in the Knesset for more than 23 years,” he said.

Litzman immediately clarified that his planned retirement had nothing to do with several criminal investigations into his behavior, and claimed that he has “no plea deal” lined up.

Litzman, who previously served as health minister, is expected to be indicted for obstruction of justice and breach of trust.

The pending charges relate to suspicions that he used his former position to prevent the extradition to Australia of Malka Leifer, a former principal of an Orthodox girls school in Melbourne accused of sexually assaulting minors (Leifer was recently extradited after a years-long saga); and to prevent the closure of a deli cited for health violations.

Elected to the Knesset in 1999, Litzman was the de facto head of the Health Ministry for over a decade, serving as either deputy or full health minister from 2009 until mid-2020.

In January, Litzman stepped down as chair of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism after 18 years at its helm, with Moshe Gafni taking the lead.

Also on Sunday, Shas leader and MK Aryeh Deri was indicted on tax offenses as part of a plea deal that will see him resign from the Knesset, though he vowed to remain in politics and return to lawmaking in the future.

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