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Hasidic faction picks replacement for Litzman to serve in Knesset

Yitzchak Goldknopf, known for network of educational institutions and chairing panel on Sabbath matters, will replace 23-year political veteran who resigned as part of plea deal

Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen outside a meeting of the Council of Torah Sages in Jerusalem on September 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen outside a meeting of the Council of Torah Sages in Jerusalem on September 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Agudat Yisrael, a Hasidic faction within the United Torah Judaism party, on Friday announced a replacement for Yaakov Litzman, who recently departed from the Knesset after 23 years as part of a plea bargain.

In a front-page article, the faction’s daily newspaper Hamodia confirmed Yitzchak Goldknopf would take over as leader of the faction.

The statement came nearly a month after other ultra-Orthodox media outlets reported on the possibility of Goldknopf replacing Litzman after the latter formally resigned.

Goldknopf, 72, is a familiar figure in the ultra-Orthodox community, running a network of special needs education centers and kindergartens, according to Al-Monitor.

The Behadrei Haredim news site reported that there have been calls, especially among teachers, not to vote for UTJ following allegations made against the employment terms at kindergartens run by Goldknopf.

Goldknopf was also deeply involved in protests against companies that ultra-Orthodox Jews believe harm the Haredi lifestyle, chairing the so-called Committee for the Sanctity of the Sabbath.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Goldknopf.

“We will soon meet to continue the important cooperation between our movements for the wellbeing of all Israeli citizens,” the former prime minister tweeted.

UTJ is part of a Netanyahu-led bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

Former minister Yaakov Litzman in court for a hearing on his plea bargain, at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, June 9, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Litzman, 73, resigned as part of a plea deal over his involvement in the Malka Leifer sexual abuse case. Last year, Litzman stepped down as chair of UTJ after 18 years at the helm, with Moshe Gafni taking the lead.

Israel is expected to head for a new round of elections in the fall.

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