The Medical residents and Finance Ministry agreed Sunday night that retired justice Yitzhak Zamir and Prof. Mordehai Mironi of the University of Haifa’s law faculty would mediate the dispute over residents' wages and hours.
Health Ministry looks to get residents back to work
The three-month-long broil of hundreds of medical residents and dozens of
specialists at hospitals in the center of the country and Haifa reached a new
stage earlier on Sunday, as the doctors agreed to return to the negotiating table and
accept the High Court of Justice’s suggestion to appoint two mediators to
facilitate a solution.
But it was not certain whether some recalcitrant
physicians would return to work.
At the beginning of Sunday’s hearing, a
representative of the state said the Finance Ministry was willing to hold talks
with residents within the framework of the collective work agreement signed last
summer, but would not re-open negotiations on the agreement
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch agreed talks could go
ahead without opening the agreement.
During the hearing, Beinisch said
the court wanted to find a mediator to be “objective and acceptable to all
sides” and that several experts may end up being chosen.
She proposed Zamir and Mironi, and asked both sides to decide whether they
would accept her proposal.
“We proposed [Zamir and Mironi] because they
could help in a professional and dignified manner,” said Beinisch, before
calling a court recess to allow residents to discuss and put forward names of
mediators they would find acceptable.
However, it will not be easy to
find a respected expert who is neutral on the matter, as someone who is too
close to one side of the dispute would not be accepted by the
Earlier in Sunday’s hearing, Beinisch, speaking as head of the
three-justice panel that also included Esther Hayut and Hanan Melcer, said she
welcomed the residents’ decision to return to negotiations, but “this is only
partial congratulations. Your decision is good, but you left many [doctors] who
do not agree. We want you to represent a group and not part of a
“If you continue negotiations, you must remember that you also
mentioned specialists, but we deal only with residents... We don’t want everyone
to represent only a small group of people. We will not have another hearing for
every group,” said Beinisch, who noted that even the petitioners were not an
official representative of the doctors. That is the Israel Medical
Shortly before residents retired to discuss potential
mediators, petitioner and resident Dr. Avi Gadot said in an address to the court
that while the current crisis was considered a struggle waged by residents, many
more doctors supported the cause.
“Many doctors are angry, humiliated and
deeply embittered,” Gadot said. “I’m 39 years old, I have served in the army and
worked in medicine for many years, I am a young doctor but a senior
Gadot said residents had put their trust in the court to help
them, but lacked faith in the Finance Ministry.
“We came [here] out of
respect for the court,” he said.
In response, Beinisch said that though
the court understood the seriousness of the situation, “there is a legal
framework and rules. Therefore we think it is necessary to strengthen trust and
Meanwhile, at the beginning of the weekly cabinet
meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally health minister,
praised the physicians but called on all those who resigned to go back to work.
“I understand your desire to improve your
conditions of employment, but none of us, nobody in the state is above the law,
and we must all honor court decisions – because otherwise there would be anarchy
here,” he said.
Netanyahu, who has been widely criticized by opposition
MKs for his lack of intervention in the crisis, said that “no responsible
government can countenance a situation in which agreements that were just signed
are reopened, and these are long-term agreements that affect the entire
“I will continue to accompany the dialogue process and I will
make certain that the process will be substantive. Naturally, in this process,
not all of your demands will be met, but we will be attentive to improving your
working conditions in the framework of the agreement that has been signed” by
the IMA and the Treasury in August, the prime minister said.
cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz was sharply critical of the
residents, saying “this was no longer merely a medical crisis, but rather a
struggle over the character of the state. Are we a state of law and order where
agreements that are legally signed are honored, and court decisions are
implemented? Or are we an anarchic state where everyone acts according to their
whims?” He called on the medical residents to honor the court decisions and the
signed salary agreement. As for their remaining demands, he said: “We are
willing to discuss this with them, be attentive, move in their direction and see
what we can improve.”
The spokesman of the residents charged that
Steinitz has in recent days made wild attacks on the doctors.
occurred exactly when the doctors have shown responsibility and are willing to
return to the negotiating table. There are public officials who forget that they
were chosen to serve the public and not to abuse them,” said the
“When the time comes, their brutal and irresponsible handling
will lead to them being removed. Steinitz’s tough talk proves again and again
that he is a minister who lacks a basic understanding of the sensitivity of his
position. If this is the way the Treasury operates, we will insist on our right
Kadima, meanwhile, will present a bill of non-confidence in
the government for “destroying public health.” MK Rachel Adatto said on Sunday
the health system has for the last nine months been “in the throes of the worst
crisis the system has ever known.
The prime minister, who is health
minister, has totally ignored the right of citizens to health, while patients
die as a direct result of the crisis.”
Herb Keinon and Joanna Parasczuk contributed to this report.