Science minister advocates shutting down his ministry

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The Science Ministry was established in 1982 as an outgrowth of the National Research and Development Council. It was regarded as a way of getting Professor Yuval Ne'eman and his Tehiyah Party into the Begin government.

Eitan's proposal was denounced by Zvi Yannai, until last month director-general of the ministry and now adviser to the Knesset Science and Technology Committee.

"This is a mistaken decision that will cause irreversible damage to science in this country. I hope it won't be implemented," said Yannai.

Eitan called in his speechless staff — 50 tenured staffers and the rest from manpower agencies — and told them that he had begun to discuss the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Industry and Trade Minister Natan Sharansky, and that they had not yet given their approval.

If Eitan's idea is carried out, it wouldn't be the first time that a minister closed his ministry: Early last year, Yossi Beilin oversaw the closing of the Economics Ministry during his tenure as minister, arguing that it had been established for political reasons and was superfluous.