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Netanyahu: Barzilai Emergency Room Won't Be Relocated

UTJ wanted fortified ER built at different location because of ancient graves found beneath the intended site.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/12/2010, 9:32 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed the professional staff of the Ministry of Health to make preparations for building the fortified emergency room at Barzilai Hospital in the location originally intended for it.

Netanyahu's bureau noted that the Prime Minister made the decision based upon a professional evaluation by a team that was headed by his bureau's director, Eyal Gabbai.

Deputy health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), whose faction demanded that the emergency room be relocated due to ancient graves discovered beneath it, said that his position on the matter has not changed. He will ask to convene the UTJ faction in order to decide how to react to the decision by Netanyahu. Relocating the ER would entail great expense and a delay that could cost the lives of patients in case of a missile attack on the hospital.

Netanyahu formally holds the position of Health Minister because UTJ, a non-Zionist hareidi-religious faction, is opposed to accepting ministerial positions. Instead it received the deputy-ministerial position but in practice, it controls the Health Ministry.

The government, which had decided before Pesach to relocate the ER in compliance with UTJ's demands, reversed its decision this week and empowered the Prime Minister to decide the matter as he saw fit.

While Litzman has threatened to resign if the ER is not relocated, most political commetators do not believe UTJ will cause a coalition crisis over the affair.