Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay resigned from the Knesset on Monday, but said he would keep his ministerial post. His son Yinon Azoulay is due to replace him in the parliament’s ultra-Orthodox Shas faction.
Azoulay cited health issues in his decision.
“The minister explained that his resignation from the Knesset is meant to prevent harm to the Shas party’s parliamentary activity due to lengthy medical treatment he will be receiving over the next few weeks,” Azoulay’s office said in a statement.
“Minister Azoulay emphasized that he would continue to lead the Religious Affairs Ministry, God willing, until the end of the term,” the statement continued.
Under the so-called “Norwegian law,” ministers can give up their seat in the Knesset while retaining their government post, and return to serve in the parliament in the event that they lose their ministerial position — for example, if the government falls.
Several Shas party members gave up their places ahead of Yinon Azoulay on the electoral list, in order to allow him to take his father’s seat.
The move had been widely expected to be carried out in January, as part of a plan that would have seen him give up his seat in a bid to help the coalition pass a bill to shutter shops and convenience stores on Shabbat. He was hospitalized for a week, and his absence had put the so-called mini-markets bill in peril.
However, Azoulay ultimately said at the time that there was no need for him to resign as he would be out of hospital by the time the vote took place.
The party leader, Aryeh Deri, reacted to Azoulay’s resignation by praising him and saying the party was “praying for his full and quick recovery and return to full activity.”
“I was sad to accept the request of my friend, Minister Rabbi David Azoulay, to resign from the Knesset due to his medical condition,” Deri said, adding that he had “many achievements” in his parliamentary career, which began in 1996.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.