‘Political jobs bill’ postponed amid uproar

Former prime minister Ehud Barak described the bill as “ugly” and warned against Israel becoming a country ruled by political appointments.

October 2, 2017 01:51
3 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a cabinet meeting

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


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted Sunday to postpone by two weeks, voting on a controversial bill that would enable ministers to make a key political appointment in their ministries.

The bill would apply to the 13 ministries that have at least 150 workers. The minister would be allowed to appoint a deputy director-general of their choosing without having to publish a government tender.

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Netanyahu decided that the bill was not strong enough and asked coalition chairman David Bitan to write new legislation that will be brought back to the cabinet after the fall holidays end. His decision was backed up by Shas leader Arye Deri, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and other ministers.

“The voters are sovereign and they should decide what they want the government’s priorities to be,” Netanyahu told the cabinet. “We must give ministers the possibility to implement their policies that they were elected to implement.”

But Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin lamented that an opportunity had been missed to allow cabinet ministries to function better.

“Opposition from some of the ministers prevented a historic chance to change the process of selecting senior officials in public service,” Levin said.

“An opportunity that may not return, to strengthen the ability of ministers to guarantee proper appointments of people who are obligated to their policies, was missed.”

Levin said the ministers who blocked the bill were responsible for continuing problems for ministers who are unable to implement their agendas. She expressed hope that her bill would be approved in two weeks.

“There are ministers who talk, and there are ministers who get things done,” Shaked said. “Instead of continuing to talk about how we can govern better, we could have enabled our elected officials to govern better.”

The opposition heads attacked Netanyahu, both for his ministers submission of the bill and for sending it back to strengthen it.

“For those who do not understand what happened, the cabinet postponed its decision on enabling political appointments not because they oppose giving political patronage positions to those who are close to them, but because there are not enough political jobs in the bill,” said Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid.

“It doesn’t bother them that the bill is corrupt. It bothers that it is not corrupt enough.”

Former prime minister Ehud Barak described the bill as “ugly” and warned against Israel becoming a country ruled by political appointments, calling it a “policalappointmentocracy.”

Labor leader Avi Gabbay said the bill was intended for a “hostile takeover of the public coffers and to extort the public’s money.”

He warned that political appointments cost “billions” of shekels. Gabbay gave examples of political appointments in government companies who deal with water and roads, and made major mistakes which took huge sums of money to fix.

“The public’s money is being burned for political jobs,” he said at a Tel Aviv press conference. “A line can be drawn between the political jobs, last week’s NIS 10 million ceremony in Gush Etzion, and the disabled and elderly, who are betting for more funding.”

Gabbay was joined at the press conference by retiring Zionist Union MK Manuel Trajtenberg, who submitted his resignation to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein Sunday. Trajtenberg said at the press conference that reforms were made to make government appointments less political and now Netanyahu was reversing the process.

Trajtenberg will be replaced in the Knesset by the next candidate on the Zionist Union list, Druse activist Saleh Sa’ad. Sa’ad himself had to leave a leave a key position in the Histadrut Labor Federation after it was revealed that he received a boost in salary because he submitted a fake law degree.

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