Israel’s Health Ministry Director Resigns From His Position


Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Tuesday that he is resigning from his position with the swearing-in of the new government on Thursday.

“I am proud of my years as director and especially regarding coping with the coronavirus crisis,” Bar Siman-Tov wrote in his resignation letter. “I will remain [in office] for the required time to pass on the position in an organized fashion. I wish success to the next health minister and director.”

A Ynet report earlier this week said that Bar Siman-Tov was considering resigning from his position due to the conflict between the finance and health ministries about the correct level of caution in re-opening the economy following the decrease of coronavirus cases.

There has been a continuous push and pull between government officials about the proper level of caution in decreasing coronavirus restrictions, with health ministry officials wanting to proceed with the utmost caution and finance ministry officials urging the re-opening of the economy as swiftly as possible to minimize long-lasting economic damage.

According to the report, Bar Siman-Tov wished to resign his position due to his calls of caution regarding re-opening the economy being ignored. His decision will depend on who would be chosen to take over his position, the report said, citing a source close to him.

However, a new health minister has not yet been appointed as of Tuesday so apparently Bar Siman-Tov did not base his decision on this matter. A Channel 13 News report later on Tuesday said that Netanyahu offered the health ministry position to former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein but it is not yet known what Edelstein responded.

Some said that Bar Siman-Tov wanted to resign due to the fact that he may be ousted by the new health minister who will soon be appointed to replace outgoing Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is moving to the housing ministry with the swearing-in of the new government on Thursday. Bar Siman-Tav prefers to prompt his ouster by resigning, according to the report.

There was much opposition to Bar Siman-Tov’s appointment as Health Ministry Director in 2015 due to the fact that he is an economist by profession and not a medical professional, with the Israel Medical Association even appealing to the Supreme Court against his appointment. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal and Bar Siman-Tov was the first non-physician to fulfill the position.

Finance Director-General Shai Babad also announced his resignation this week, informing incoming Finance Minister Yisrael Katz about his decision.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)