Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s communications director, Yoaz Hendel,
submitted his resignation this week as a result of the Natan Eshel affair,
Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night.
Hendel, along with cabinet secretary
Tzvi Hauser and military attaché Yohanan Locker, filed a complaint with the
Civil Services Commission against Eshel, the prime minister’s chief of staff,
for harassing a female subordinate, which eventually led to his being forced out
Eshel is a close Netanyahu confidant, and the incident has
cast a huge cloud over the workings of his office. Hendel is Netanyahu’s fourth
communications director since he took office in 2009.
Minister’s Office refused to comment on the matter Tuesday evening, and Hendel
could not be reached for comment. The office did not issue any formal
announcement of Hendel’s resignation.
Channel 2 also aired footage of an
annoyed Netanyahu reproving Hauser at Sunday’s cabinet meeting – soon after the
Civil Service Commission announced the deal with Eshel – for not ensuring that the door to the cabinet meeting was
According to the report, Netanyahu met with Hendel and Hauser on
Monday and upbraided them for not coming to him first about the affair and
instead going directly to the commission. Hendel and Hauser acted on the advice
of former attorney-general Menahem Mazuz, who advised them not to get the prime
Netanyahu, in a meeting described as “harsh,” said he
should not have to hear about such matters from the media.
When he told
the two that he had lost confidence in them, Hendel – according to the report –
offered his resignation.
On Sunday evening, after Netanyahu named Gil
Sheffer to replace Eshel, the prime minister issued a statement praising Eshel
for his service. The statement did not, however, praise Hendel, Hauser and
Locker for coming forward, even though the attorney-general, in his statement
about the plea bargain arrangement, said they had acted appropriately and done
what was required of them.
Labor Party head Shelly Yacimovich issued a
statement following the news of Hendel’s resignation and the airing of
Netanyahu’s admonishing Hauser, saying the prime minister was sending a message
that those assisting a woman harassed at the workplace would be condemned and
She said this “abandons women to those harassing them” and will
frighten rational males who do the right and legal thing by coming to the aid of
a female colleague being harassed.
Kadima head Tzipi Livni also issued a
statement, saying Netanyahu’s behavior in the whole episode showed a “warped”
value system that punished those who did the right thing and came
“This is not the way someone should behave who purports to lead
by example,” she said.