AG reportedly to let deputy health minister keep post despite looming charges
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AG reportedly to let deputy health minister keep post despite looming charges

Yaakov Litzman agrees to relinquish responsibility over offices he’s been accused of pressuring in order to assist convicted pedophiles

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of the upcoming elections, in the northern city of Safed, July 4, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of the upcoming elections, in the northern city of Safed, July 4, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is planning to allow Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to keep his post, despite the police’s recommendation earlier this month that he be indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust, Channel 13 reported Saturday.

Progress toward an agreement between Mandelblit and Litzman came after the deputy minister, who heads the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, agreed to relinquish responsibility of the offices within the Health Ministry where he’s been accused of pressuring officials to provide illegal assistance to alleged pedophile Malka Leifer as well as a Haredi delicatessen that he frequented.

These offices include that of the Jerusalem district psychiatrist, whom Litzman is suspected of repeatedly pressuring to produce a legal opinion deeming Leifer unfit for extradition to Australia, where she faces 74 counts of child sex abuse.

The network described the agreement as a “dream deal” for Litzman, who was at risk of being booted from the Health Ministry, where he has served on and off for a total of eight years.

(R) Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman seen during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); (L) A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Litzman, who possesses many of the authorities of a full minister despite serving as a deputy, has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining in a response to the police recommendation that his office has a “clear open-door policy for assisting members of the public. This is without discrimination between populations and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance. The deputy minister expressed confidence that no charges would ultimately be filed.”

In the wake of the police recommendation, it will be up to Mandelblit to determine whether to indict the deputy health minister. The Kan public broadcaster reported earlier this month that the State Prosecutor’s Office is slated to hand down its recommendation to Mandelblit by the September 17 elections and said the attorney general may even reach a decision to indict — pending a hearing — before the vote.

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