Beinisch: Doctors not interested in talks

High Court declines appeal that would force PM to intervene in dispute; IMA chairman on hunger strike gets MKs' applause.

dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Medical Association heard its first criticism from Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch who said on Tuesday the doctors “do not now seem interested in negotiations” with the Treasury.
She spoke in response to an appeal to the High Court of Justice by David Forer, a lawyer representing patients who wanted to force Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene in the doctors’ labor dispute.
The three-justice panel, including Esther Hayout and Yitzhak Amit, said too much effort has been wasted trying to win public opinion rather than on negotiating the issues. The appellants were referred to the National Labor Court, which is dealing with the 136-day dispute between the doctors and the Treasury.
The IMA responded that the prime minister need not intervene in every labor dispute but that he should in this one, given that he holds the health portfolio and the necessary decisions on funding have not been made to find a solution.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman – who launched a one-man hunger strike nine days ago to get Netanyahu to intervene and end the strike by responding to the doctors’ demands – received much sympathy at a meeting of the Knesset Health Lobby. The meeting, chaired by Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, and attended by MKs from both opposition and coalition parties, brought warm applause to Eidelman, who has been drinking only mineral water since starting his hunger strike and walking from IMA headquarters in Ramat Gan to a protest tent near the Prime Minister’s Office.
Eidelman had a negotiating session with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz before arriving at the Knesset, where he said the talks “strengthened me to say ‘no’ to the thousands of people who beg me to stop my hunger strike. We are stuck in the negotiations. Unfortunately, no decision has been made to invest in health. I don’t do this for the negotiators. In my view, there is no higher value that the health of the people of Israel.”
Eidelman, a senior anesthesiologist at the Rabin Medical Center, said he was determined to go on, as “every day, I see the health system is moving towards collapse, and we will find ourselves unable to give patients medical treatment.”
National Union MK Arye Eldad, a burns expert and maxillofacial surgeon who worked for years at the Hadassah Medical Center, said at the session that he visited Eidelman in his tent and later called Netanyahu.
“I told him that the last thing he needs is that Eidelman will collapse or, God forbid, die. You will be finished. What has happened in the tent protest is child’s play compared to what would happen in such an eventuality. You can’t allow this. I saw that the prime minister understands,” Eldad said.
The MK added that a Treasury negotiator came up to him and asked how long someone could go on a hunger strike without dying.
Kadima chairman and opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni said instead of dealing with the doctors’ dispute, Netanyahu was busy pleading with the Palestinians for diplomatic talks “but not with Israeli citizens.”
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he saw “no reason why the prime minister and Dr. Eidelman should not meet. I am trying to advance this.”