Australian Jewish Group Calls to Oust Israeli Deputy Minister Accused of Aiding Suspected Sex Abuser

The Zionist Federation of Australia wants Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman fired, after police investigated him for aiding an Australian school principal suspected of child abuse avoid extradition

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 file photo, Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Israeli police say they are investigating a deputy minister for ethics violations. Israeli media reported that the inquiry involved suspicions that deputy health minister Litzman obstructed justice by attempting to prevent the extradition of a woman accused of sex crimes in Australia.
Tsafrir Abayov,AP

The Zionist Federation of Australia called for the firing of an Israel deputy minister and for Israel to stop delaying the extradition of a woman accused of molesting several girls while the principal of a haredi Orthodox girls’ school in Australia.

Over the weekend, details emerged that police suspect Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a Gur hassid and the head of the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, attempted to pressure the Jerusalem district psychiatrist into falsely stating that Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to be extradited to Australia to stand trial.

“Leifer’s extradition has been a frustratingly drawn out process which has inflicted further pain and suffering on her victims. Their suffering has undoubtedly been compounded by this most recent allegation,” the ZFA said in a statement Sunday.

>> In Israel, Australian sisters recount alleged sex abuse by ultra-Orthodox principal

Litzman’s meeting with the key witness in the extradition case could constitute obstruction of justice, according to reports. He also is accused of threatening other medical professionals at the ministry if they did not write reports in a way favorable to Leifer.

Malka Leifer in court, February 27, 2018.
Mahmoud Illean / AP

Claims have been made throughout Litzman’s tenure that he has intervened on behalf of other haredim for earlier doctor’s appointments, better hospital rooms and other preferential treatment.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she had sexually abused students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne. She is wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse in that city.

She was arrested in Israel in 2014 and then released after being deemed mentally unfit for the legal proceedings. She was rearrested last year after an undercover investigation found that she lived a normal life and was mentally fit to face extradition proceedings.

A bail hearing is set for Leifer on Monday.