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Smotrich mulls legal action against Histadrut over general strike

The labor federation said in response only that it would “continue to work to unite Israel's divided society.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting of his Religious Zionism Party in Givat Harel, Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting of his Religious Zionism Party in Givat Harel, Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has ordered his ministry to assess the damages resulting from the Histadrut’s March 27 general strike, and investigate the possibility of initiating legal proceedings against the labor federation.

The Histadrut responded that it “will continue to work to unite Israel’s divided society. We will work for the unity in the ranks and we wish all the House of Israel a happy holiday.”

Last week’s strike, in protest against the government’s judicial reform plan, set off a cascade of similar strike calls, from the Israeli Medical Association to fast-food chains. Takeoffs at Ben-Gurion International Airport were grounded when the Israel Airports Authority joined the strike.

According to Channel 11, Smotrich’s move was spurred by an earlier interview with the news outlet, in which the head of the Israel Airports Authority workers’ union, Pinchas Idan, admitted that the strike was illegal.

“If I had known it would last a long time, I would have limited it to an hour and a half. I understood that it would last for an hour [to] an hour and a half. We were waiting for the prime minister’s press conference, which didn’t take place,” he said. (The prime minister would speak only later that evening.)

Idan told travelers who had been affected, “Go to court. File a lawsuit against me and the Histadrut and I’ll comply with whatever the court decides.”

“I called a strike because the chairman of the Histadrut requested it. The Histadrut is above us. If I say that the strike was legal, I’ll be lying. If he ordered it, he apparently checked into it. I received instructions and I can’t refuse them,” he said.

Idan, who is a Likud Party member, added that he’s in favor of judicial reform.

A day following the Histadrut strike, Knesset member Simcha Rothman, who chairs the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, told Army Radio that the strike violated the law because it was instituted for political reasons.

He also said it violated the rights of the approximately 800,000 members of the labor federation.

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