CONTROVERSIAL Israeli MK Yaakov Litzman and his wife Chava have tested positive for the coronavirus, his office has announced, saying they were both in a good condition.
The 71-year-old Health Minister is the most senior Israeli official to be diagnosed with the virus.
The pair was being “suitably treated and are in isolation, under observation in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines,” the statement said, adding that all those who had been in contact with them would be informed and sent to quarantine.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been informed of the developments, the statement said, but did not say if this would affect the prime minister, who emerged from voluntary quarantine on Wednesday night after one of his aides was found to be carrying the virus.
Meanwhile, the strong possibility that Litzman will be in Israel’s new unity government has triggered a joint appeal against his inclusion by Australia’s peak Jewish bodies.
In a landmark letter to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jillian Segal, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler and Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council national chairman Mark Leibler voiced their strong objection to Litzman being part of the new government, after allegations he interfered in the process of Malka Leifer’s extradition to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse at Adass Israel School.
Litzman has denied allegations that, as health minister, he tried to influence testifying psychiatrists to declare the former Adass principal mentally unfit to stand trial, as presented on ABC-TV last month.
In negotiations with Likud, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party had initially demanded the health portfolio but later appeared to trade that for the justice ministry, which would enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reappoint Litzman, a move already condemned by high-ranking Israeli doctors.
Referring to Israeli police recommendations Litzman be charged, the rare joint letter stated, “We are utterly appalled by reports that Mr Litzman may be Health Minister in the new Israeli government, while the accusations against him concerning the ongoing Malka Leifer case remain unresolved.
“Some of Israel’s most passionate supporters within the Jewish community and in the wider community in Australia have publicly expressed their dismay about the delays that have occurred, and other irregular aspects of the case,” it stated.
“During your visit to Australia [in February] you gave an assurance that if hearings scheduled during the week of your visit did not see progress towards Malka Leifer being extradited to Australia, you would personally meet with the Chief Justice of Israel to discuss how this matter can be expedited. Sadly, there has been no such progress. Justice continues to be delayed and denied for Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer, Elly Sapper and Malka Leifer’s other alleged victims.”
The letter stated that expediting the Leifer case is “the unanimous desire of the organised Jewish community in Australia, and of Israel’s many friends in the wider Australian community. Justice demands no less”.
Erlich, a former Adass student when she allegedly became one of Leifer’s victims, told The AJN this week, “A fair and just process has been thwarted by interference. How can we trust the system when the leaders of these systems themselves are not held accountable?”
- Yaakov Litzman
- Reuven Rivlin
- Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ)
- Jillian Segal
- Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA)
- Jeremy Leibler
- Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)
- Mark Leibler
- Adass Israel School
- Malka Leifer
- Child sexual abuse
- Bring Leifer Back
- Dassi Erlich