Court Extends Mediation Deadline in Hadassah Cancer Unit Dispute

Sides still far from agreement over fate of pediatric oncology unit

A father embraces his son at the protest "field hospital" set up by parents of children from the Hadassah cancer ward in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, June 4, 2017.
Emil Salman

The High Court of Justice gave the mediator in the dispute over Hadassah Medical Center’s pediatric oncology unit another extension on Sunday, but the parties remain far from an agreement.

If the mediator, former Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, is unable to produce a deal by 7 P.M. on Monday, the court will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on a petition by the patients’ parents demanding that another Jerusalem hospital, Shaare Zedek, be allowed to open a pediatric oncology unit staffed by the doctors who resigned from Hadassah’s unit.

The mediation effort has been underway since last Wednesday, but neither side is willing to budge. Thus sources involved in the dispute predict that no agreement will be reached, and the court will ultimately be forced to rule.

Some sources charged that most of the proposals put on the table to date were meant mainly to bolster the parties’ position in court by showing willingness to find a solution, and specifically to bolster the claim that the doctors are refusing every offer made to them.

On Friday, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attended the mediation session. He told the parents he wouldn’t agree to Shaare Zedek opening its own pediatric oncology unit.

With the Shaare Zedek option off the table, the parents aren’t left with many other options. Nevertheless, one possibility raised during the mediation is for the doctors to go back to Hadassah, but to a new pediatric oncology unit that would open at the hospital’s Mount Scopus campus rather than to the old one at the Ein Karem campus.

Under this proposal, the new unit would formally be part of Hadassah, but would operate as a kind of enclave in which the doctors would be employed and paid directly by the state rather than by Hadassah, a private hospital. Moreover, the unit’s director, Prof. Michael Weintraub, would report to the Health Ministry rather than to Hadassah.