The Knesset on Wednesday approved a bill for the creation of a new Pensioners' Ministry headed by MK Rafi Eitan (Gil Pensioners' Party), drawing harsh criticism from National Union MK Eldad who called it a "sandbag for Olmert's trench."
MK Eitan, who was a minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office up until now, will serve as Minister for Pensioner Affairs and Jerusalem Affairs.
He told the Knesset that without an independent ministry, his department could not achieve its desired goals, including the foundation of a public advisory committee for pensioner affairs which despite government approval did not go ahead.
Plans to create a public information center to deal with pensioners' requests were also thwarted.
"For a year we have been trying to lay the infrastructure [for our goals] and we can't because of bureaucracy," he said.
Eitan's media spokesperson, Ela Bar-Or said the plans had stalled in the PMO because legal and financial advice on pensioners' affairs was not available to them there. The new ministry would have legal and financial advisors of its own, she said.
MK Eldad of the National Union called the establishment of the ministry a way of creating jobs for Olmert's supporters in order to strengthen the shaky coalition.