Foreign Ministry will ask to examine appointments

Ministry's workers’ committee to request investigation into appointments process following Belarus ambassador affair.

Liberman in front of star of david 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)
Liberman in front of star of david 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)
Against the backdrop of allegations that former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman acted improperly in the appointment of Ze’ev Ben- Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia, the Foreign Ministry’s workers’ committee intends in the coming days to ask the state comptroller to examine the ministry’s method for making senior appointments.
Yair Frommer, chairman of the worker’s committee, said Wednesday the request is not directly connected to the Liberman inquiry, and that six months ago, the committee turned to the ministry’s director- general regarding what it said were improprieties in the appointment process. He said the committee has now decided to turn to the comptroller because it did not get a resolution on the matter from the ministry’s management.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the Belarus Ambassador Affair has made looking into the ministry’s entire appointments process very timely.
Frommer said that the workers’ committee has two main complaints. The first is that the seven-person panel that considers appointments to delegations abroad is weighted heavily in favor of management, with all but two of the members of the committee occupying top-level ministry management positions. The panel is headed by the deputy foreign minister, a political appointment.
The committee would like to involve more representatives of the workers in the appointments process.
The second complaint is that detailed protocols of the meetings are no longer kept, meaning that eliminated candidates never really know what arguments were used to reject them.
If the current State Comptroller Yosef Shapira does decide to look into the matter, it would not be the first time he has done so. In 2006, then-state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued a special report on shortcomings in manpower administration by the Foreign Ministry, suggesting that it should consider an overhaul of the system.
There are currently two appointment committees in the Foreign Ministry. The first, known as the Higher Committee, is chaired by the deputy foreign minister and deals with filling vacancies abroad. The second, which deals with other posts inside the ministry, is run by the director-general.
Lindestrauss’s report at the time warned against the political echelon being involved in professional appointments.
One of the allegations against Liberman is that he used his influence to sway the appointments committee toward Ben- Aryeh, a former ambassador to Belarus. Ben-Aryeh, it is alleged, leaked information to Liberman of the ongoing police investigation against him.
Regarding the latest legal developments in the Liberman case, Channel 2 and Channel 10 both reported Wednesday night that following questioning of Liberman on Tuesday, the charges in the indictment are expected to get more serious, although it was unclear if a new count would be added.
An indictment can get more serious just by adding new evidence, such as alleging that any fraud by Liberman was active as opposed to passive, or by adding entirely new and separate counts.
Channel 2 also reported that during the questioning, Liberman told police that while Ben- Aryeh “was a great candidate, only if I had not acted on his behalf, he might not have been picked.”

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.