Shas deputy minister resigns as MK, retains ministerial post
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Shas deputy minister resigns as MK, retains ministerial post

Yitzhak Cohen, who is leaving Knesset under so-called Norwegian Law, vacating seat for party colleague Danny Saida

Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen attends a Knesset plenum session on February 13, 2013.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen attends a Knesset plenum session on February 13, 2013.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A deputy minister from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party resigned from the Knesset Monday under a law allowing him to retain his post while vacating his seat to another party member.

Yitzhak Cohen will be replaced in the Knesset by Danny Saida, while remaining deputy finance minister.

Saida served as an MK for a little over a day in September following former Shas lawmaker Yigal Guetta’s resignation from the Knesset. Saida was quickly replaced by then deputy interior minister Meshulam Nahari, who in a reverse use of the so-called Norwegian law briefly resigned as deputy minister and returned as a MK.

The law, which passed in 2015, allows one minister or deputy minister from a party to leave parliament but still hold onto the ministerial post.

The faction can then bring in another member to take up the Knesset seat, effectively granting the parties of government ministers a stronger presence in the halls of power.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri (L) and MK Meshulam Nahari at a faction meeting at the Knesset January 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A minister who resigns from the Knesset does not give up any parliamentary rights — such as immunity from prosecution — or wages. The entry of a fresh lawmaker costs the state about NIS 1.3 million ($328,000) for salaries, three assistants, a car and other expenses, according to the Calcalist news site.

In addition to Shas, a number of other coalition parties have also had ministers resign their Knesset seats in accordance with the law.

Shas head Aryeh Deri, who holds the interior and development of the Negev and the Galilee portfolios, resigned his Knesset seat in October 2016, but did not do so under the Norwegian law, which the party already used for Nahari.

Ministers who give up their Knesset seats under the Norwegian Law can return to serve as in the parliament instead of their replacements, in the event that they lose their ministerial position — for example, if the government falls. Since parties can only activate the Norwegian Law for one minister at a time, were the ruling coalition to fall or lose Shas, Deri would be out of a job.

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