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      Netanyahu to Oversee Negotiations with Residents

      Prime Minister Netanyahu agrees to oversee talks with the medical residents. They, in return, promise to wait with mass resignations.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 10/7/2011, 4:41 AM

      Medical resident outside National Labor Court
      Medical resident outside National Labor Court
      Flash 90

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed on Thursday to oversee the talks with the medical residents, who have threatened to resign en masse.

      In response, the residents have agreed to hold off on the mass resignation until Monday at midnight, Health Ministry director general Ronni Gamzu announced.

      “After many hours of discussions, an outline was reached according to which dialogue and negotiations will continue under the auspices of the Labor Court and, at the request of residents, also under the auspices of the Prime Minister, until Monday at the end of the day,” Gamzu said. “We will be required to appear before the court to report on progress.”

      He added, “Everyone is hoping to achieve a real dialogue. The representatives of the residents said they will do everything not to exercise their resignations and we welcome that. I appeal again to all doctors to give an opportunity to negotiations.”

      On Tuesday, the representatives of the residents met with Netanyahu in an attempt to reach a solution that would avert a medical catastrophe, but the meeting was a failure.

      During the meeting, Netanyahu asked the representatives to wait several days before they resign en masse and consider new proposals to end the crisis, and while the representatives agreed to consult on this with their colleagues, they ended up refusing and were supposed to walk off the job on Thursday.

      The National Labor Court subsequently issued an injunction that prevented the residents from resigning.

      The medical residents are disputing the agreement that was reached between the government and the Israel Medical Association to end a 158-day doctors’ strike. An initial attempt at a mass resignation was ruled illegal, prompting hundreds of residents to file individual resignations instead.

      Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he understood the residents’ distress and also stressed the importance of the sacred work of medical practitioners in Israel. He told the residents that he was impressed with their desire to ensure appropriate working conditions for doctors in the public health sector.

      Hospital officials have warned that if the planned resignations are realized, a medical catastrophe could ensue.