An ultra-Orthodox minister in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government quit on Sunday in a dispute over work on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest.

But a spokesman for health minister Yaakov Litzman told AFP that his United Torah Judaism party would remain in the ruling alliance “at this stage”, preserving Netanyahu’s slim parliamentary majority at least for the time being.

Similar disputes have caused Israeli coalition crises in the past, but Netanyahu was reportedly seeking ways to prevent further fallout.

“I resign from my cabinet position as health minister,” Litzman wrote in his resignation letter, a copy of which was sent to AFP.

“The decision follows the public works conducted on the Sabbath by Israel Railways,” he added.

“I cannot bear ministerial responsibility for the severe harm to one of the eternal values of the Jewish people, which is the Sabbath.”

Read the report and watch the video news item from SBS TV.

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