Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Yaakov Litzman, March 4, 2020.

Member of Knesset Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) submitted his resignation from the Knesset on Wednesday, as part of a plea agreement he signed after he admitted to a breach of trust in the Malka Leifer affair.

After 23 years in the Knesset and after serving as deputy minister of health for about a decade, Litzman submitted his resignation to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy.

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Litzman said after his resignation that he “concludes with satisfaction many years of in the Knesset, out of praise for the Creator of the world who has given me the privilege to serve the public with dedication and loyalty, out of ambition and mission to sanctify heaven and protect the sanctuary of Israel. I congratulate my colleagues of the Torah Judaism faction, my colleagues in the Shas faction and all my partners in the various factions, who worked together for the public in Israel.”

He will be replaced by Yitzchak Goldknopf.

Litzman signed a deal at the end of January in which he admitted that he an attempt to prevent the formulation of a psychiatric opinion that would lead to Leifer’s extradition to Australia to face charges of sexual abuse.

Litzman was accused of using his status and power to influence the legal proceeding in which the ombudsman for the Jerusalem District Court petitioned to declare Malka Leifer fit to be extradited to Australia for sexual offenses she allegedly committed there on minors at a school she ran in Melbourne.

Throughout the proceedings, it was argued that Leifer was unfit to stand trial due to mental health issues, and therefore the extradition proceedings against her should be stopped.

Following requests from Leifer in 2015, Litzman acted improperly to influence the district psychiatrist in the Jerusalem district at that time and cause him to change the opinion he provided regarding Leifer’s mental state.

At a later stage in the legal proceedings, in February 2018, when the state sought to resume the extradition proceedings, the district psychiatrist was asked by the court to submit his latest opinion on the issue. A few days later, Litzman summoned the district psychiatrist to his office once more and again sought to improperly influence his opinion on Leifer’s mental state, so that it would be determined that she was unfit to stand trial and therefore would not be extradited.

Leifer was subsequently extradited in January 2021 and is now facing charges in an Australian court.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.