Aaron Abramovich likely to lead Livni's inner circle

If she does become PM, here's a look at her close advisers, and others who're likely to fill key posts.

September 23, 2008 22:47
4 minute read.
Aaron Abramovich likely to lead Livni's inner circle

livni in da hood 224 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )

When the country gets a new prime minister, it doesn't only get that prime minister, but also a slew of the prime minister's confidants, who - seemingly overnight - become key decision makers and household names. Binyamin Netanyahu gave the country Yitzhak Molcho; Ehud Barak, Gilad Sher; Ariel Sharon brought Dov Weisglass and Ehud Olmert presented Yoram Turbowicz. And those were only the top tier. Below them, in positions from director-general to personal adviser, cabinet secretary and spokesman, the people who surround the prime minister are crucial. Though Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is still a long way away yet from moving into the Prime Minister's Office, it is still important to look at her close advisers, and others who are likely to fill key posts if she does indeed become prime minister.

  • Aaron Abramovich: Abramovich is currently the Foreign Ministry's director-general, brought to the position from the Justice Ministry, where he also served Livni as her director-general. Livni is widely expected to move Abramovich with her to the Prime Minister's Office, though isn't quite clear in what capacity. There is some speculation that she would like to appoint him attorney-general in place of Menahem Mazuz, while others say he would likely become cabinet secretary, replacing Olmert's trusted adviser, Ovad Yehezkel. Abramovich's name is mentioned in another capacity, as well. Livni, obviously, is going to have to select a new foreign minister. Working on the assumption that the position will stay within Kadima's ranks, one of the leading candidates at this point, along with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, is Meir Sheetrit. It was Sheetrit who brought Abramovich to the Justice Ministry in 2001, from his previous job as director-general of the Jewish Agency. Sheetrit knew Abramovich well from the days when Sheetrit was Jewish Agency treasurer and Abramovich was the Agency's deputy legal adviser. During that period Sheetrit fought and beat corruption charges in court. If Sheetrit is appointed foreign minister, Abramovich might remain in his current post. If, however, Mofaz gets the nod, he would likely bring in one of his own confidants to fill the position. And yet another possibility is that Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On will be forced out of his current position because of coalition considerations, and be given the Foreign Ministry instead. In that case he would also most likely bring with him his own director-general.
  • Tal Becker: Livni plucked the French-born, Australian-raised Becker from the ministry's legal division in 2006 and made him one of her chief policy advisers, and one of the key Israeli officials in her talks with the Palestinians. Becker, who was the legal adviser to Israel's mission at the United Nations from 2001-2005, and acting director of the Foreign Ministry's international law department, would most likely replace Shalom Turgeman, who served both Olmert and Sharon as foreign policy advisor and would most likely leave the PMO.
  • Udi Dekel: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dekel has served Livni since February as the coordinator of the staff charged with conducting the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Dekel is a former head of the IDF's Strategic Planning Division, and a trusted adviser who Livni is widely expected to take with her to the PMO, in what capacity, though, it isn't yet clear.
  • Gil Messing: Messing, in his mid-20s, is widely considered to be Livni's closest aide, with one source saying he is like her "long lost son." He currently serves as her personal assistant and spokesman, charged with everything from carrying her bags to sending text messages to journalists. One source said that Messing, who Livni brought into the position from his job as deputy Kadima spokesman, is "like part of her family. She trusts him completely, more than anyone else, and he is 100 percent obedient." While some say that he may be tabbed as her spokesman, others maintain that he would likely be given another equally important role inside the ministry.
  • Amir Goldstein: Goldstein has served since August 2007 as Livni's personal chief-of-staff. He deals with political matters and is her interface with Kadima. Goldstein came to Livni's office from the private sector, where he had held a variety of executive positions at Amdocs in Israel, the US and New Zealand, and had also served as a vice president of Cellcom. One source said it was likely that he would be to Livni what Turbowicz was to Olmert.
  • Mark Regev: Regev, who currently serves as Olmert's spokesman to the foreign press, served as spokesman for the Foreign Ministry under Livni until he was selected by Olmert late last year. He is considered to have had a good working relationship with Livni, and it is widely believed that she would keep him in his present position.
  • Yisrael Maimon and Assaf Shariv: Maimon, who served as cabinet secretary under Sharon, and Shariv, who was Sharon's spokesman, are believed to be held in high esteem by Livni, who has a fondness for Sharon's old staff, and who is being advised by Sharon's former strategists Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad. According to one source, Livni would like to bring Maimon back into the PMO in some capacity (he is currently working in the private sector) and may also want to lure Shariv back to the spokesman's office from New York, where he is currently serving as Israel's consul-general. Adler and Arad, as well as Uri Shani, also one of Sharon's close confidants, are expected to continue to advise Livni from behind the scenes.
  • Naftali Spitzer: Spitzer, Livni's husband, has been closely involved with her political career. The co-owner of an advertising agency, Spitzer is known to give Livni frequent advice on a wide array of policy issues and often sits in on small, intimate meetings. Though he will obviously not have a formal role in the PMO, his influence is expected to be considerable.

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