SYDNEY (JTA) — The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has written to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealing to him to reconsider the appointment to Minister of Health of Yaakov Litzman, who is under investigation for blocking the extradition of alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer.
President Jillian Segal and co-CEOs Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin wrote in the letter that “allegations of executive interference in the judicial process by Mr. Litzman in support of Ms. Leifer unavoidably raise grave questions about the integrity of the handling of her case in Israel while Mr. Litzman remains in any government position.”
Litzman previously served as deputy health minister.
Leifer faces 74 counts of child sexual abuse committed while serving as principal of Adass Yisroel, a girls’ school in Melbourne. She fled Melbourne in 2008 for Israel before she could be charged.
The letter said the council has discussed the Leifer case with Israel’s ambassador to Australia, the Foreign Ministry, and members of Knesset.
“We have done this because of the profound wrongs that have been involved in Ms. Leifer’s evasion of justice in Australia thus far, and the unbearable impact that her alleged crimes have had on girls in her care. Justice demands that Malka Leifer be extradited to face her accusers in open court. Basic decency dictates that the psychological torment inflicted on these girls should be a paramount consideration for ministers of the State of Israel when evaluating whether Mr. Litzman is fit to join them in the Cabinet,” the letter also said.
By promoting Litzman, the reputations of the Israeli justice system and the executive arm of government have been “sullied,” the Jewish leaders said.
Israel’s handling of the Leifer case has “caused immense distress among Jewish Australians and Israel’s many friends in the wider Australian community.”