Hanegbi: I never made improper appointments

Kadima MK denies ordering Environment Ministry staff to appoint only candidates recommended by him.

tzahi hanegbi  224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
tzahi hanegbi 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) denied in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Thursday that he had ordered the professional staff of the Environment Ministry to appoint only candidates recommended by him or his bureau to fill vacant posts. Hanegbi was testifying for the second day this week at his trial in which he is charged with making dozens of political appointments during his two years as Minister of the Environment between 2001 and 2003. "I never gave such an order," said the current chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in response to a question by his lawyer, Ya'acov Weinroth. "First of all, I didn't give any order at all. Secondly, my request didn't include anything like that." Hanegbi also denied another allegation that he had given orders not to publish job vacancies on the ministry's Web site. "There is absolutely no truth to that," he said. "There were postings during my time. I didn't even know about them or who was in charge of putting them there." Hanegbi told the court he had compiled a list of people who had asked him for jobs as well as many other kinds of requests. He kept his own file of these requests and from time to time submitted one or another to the personnel department. "I would present the name of the candidate," he said. "I did not decide that he was to be appointed. From the moment I presented his name, he was on his own." Weinroth then asked him to comment on testimony by Yoram Horowitz, the ministry deputy director-general in charge of finance and manpower, who said he had understood that Hanegbi wanted his candidates to be appointed. "That wasn't my intention," the witness replied. "The idea was that those I recommended had the potential to be appointed but that the professional echelon made the decision. More than anything else, I did not want weak people to be appointed." Hanegbi also told the court that most of the recommendations from his office did not come from him and he did not take an interest in the procedure for choosing the candidate in such cases. "Obviously," he added, "I was interested that those people I recommended would be chosen, on condition that they were professionally suited for the job." Hanegbi said that at the time, he considered what he was doing was perfectly routine and that other ministers did the same. "In retrospect, it is clear to me that some of the people involved were trying to please me," he added. "But the whole affair was small-scale." Hanegbi was not the only one in the minister's bureau to recommend appointments, he said. In fact, there was a file stuffed with curriculum vitae of people who had written asking for jobs. Most of them were affiliated with the Likud. Hanegbi said he was aware of this but never asked how people who did not need to go through a tender were chosen. All he knew was that it was the responsibility of the professional echelon in the ministry to choose them. Hanegbi's examination by his lawyer will continue next week. Almost no one from the public or the media attended Thursday's trial session.