Staffing headaches continue in Netanyahu's office

Would-be cabinet secretary to take a “timeout from government service and consider a number of offers for senior positions outside the government.”

August 9, 2016 20:41
2 minute read.
netanyahu knesset

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Knesset cabinet meeting. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yet another key appointment in the Prime Minister’s Office went awry on Tuesday, as the PMO announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff David Sharan, who was set to take over the influential position of cabinet secretary, instead would be moving to the private sector.

The PMO issued a statement saying Sharan had informed Netanyahu of his intention to take a “timeout from government service and consider a number of offers for senior positions outside the government.”

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Even though Netanyahu announced Sharan’s appointment as cabinet secretary some three months ago, he did not move that appointment forward by bringing it to the Civil Services Commission or the cabinet – something interpreted by some as an indication of second thoughts. Back in May, Yoav Horowitz was named as Sharan’s replacement as chief of staff, and the former CEO of Avis in Israel formally took up that job on Tuesday.

Sharan has been Netanyahu’s bureau chief since late 2014, and a few months later was named chief of staff. In May, he was appointed cabinet secretary, a position that has been vacant since January when Avichai Mandelblit left to become attorney-general.

The cabinet secretary post is being held temporarily by Aryeh Zohar.

Netanyahu expressed “deep appreciation” to Sharan for his work and “professionalism.”

Another key position, head of the National Security Council, also has been vacant since January when the former head, Yossi Cohen, became director of the Mossad.

Netanyahu’s choice for the NSC job, Avriel Bar-Yosef, withdrew his candidacy after his appointment became bogged down for months in the Civil Service Commission. His deputy, Yaakov Nagel, became acting head, and last week also informed the prime minister that he was turning down the offer to become head of the organization.

Sharan’s departure follows quickly on the heels of the announcement last week that Netanyahu’s top political adviser, Koby Tzoref, would be leaving his post in favor of the private sector.

Meanwhile, another controversial appointment – Ran Baratz – has, over the last several weeks, begun working in the PMO as a media adviser.

The selection of Baratz at the end of last year as the head of the National Information Directorate triggered widespread criticism when it was later revealed that he had slammed US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Facebook posts, and also posted denigrating comments about President Reuven Rivlin. His appointment to that senior position ran into opposition in the Civil Services Commission, so he was brought into the PMO as a lower- level media adviser.

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