TEL AVIV – Likud MK Yuli Edelstein accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment as health minister Tuesday evening.
Edelstein, who served as Knesset speaker for seven consecutive years, will replace Yaavov Litzman who is due to become Housing Minister.
Edelstein said he was honored to “lead the struggle against the coronavirus and prepare the health system for the new challenges.”
Netanyahu said: “I am happy that Edelstein accepted my offer and chose this senior portfolio dealing with a critical challenge for Israel.”
Edelstein will also be part of the security cabinet.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s director-general, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, who led the coronavirus response, resigned earlier Tuesday.
“With the establishment of the new government, I want to announce my resignation,” he said in a letter to Litzman. Bar Siman-Tov said he had achieved his goals with the coronavirus, including ensuring all COVID-19 patients received the best care.
“We successfully completed these goals,” he said.
He continued that he felt like the time was right to resign his post.
“The country is returning to routine in the shadow of coronavirus. More and more activities, businesses, communities and personal pleasures are returning. The government recently rolled out a road map for a full return to routine, subject to the state of morbidity,” he said.
Litzman hailed Bar Siman Tov “for his wonderful work, great investment and many achievements.”
Bar Siman-Tov was a “full and active partner with me, as health minister, for five consecutive and intense years,” Litzman said.
“We were required to make difficult decisions that led the State of Israel to victory in the fight against coronavirus… With God’s help and thanks to Bar Siman Tov’s resourcefulness and professional standards, we have managed the crisis so far, and I hope that this will continue and we reach a full victory soon,” he said.