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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attends a meeting of the Likud party in the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Rejected Netanyahu aide denies political ambitions
"I didn't run for Knesset in the last two elections, and I certainly have not acted as someone with political ambitions during my work in the Prime Minister's Office."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outgoing chief of staff, David Sharan, denied a report on Sunday that he was rejected for the coveted post of cabinet secretary because the prime minister did not want the key role filled by someone looking to use the post as a launching pad to the Knesset.

The Israel Hayom newspaper, which is considered close to Netanyahu, tried to solve the mystery of why Netanyahu decided not to promote Sharan after promising him the post.

Even though Netanyahu announced Sharan’s appointment as cabinet secretary three months ago, he did not move that appointment forward by bringing it to the Civil Service 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 last week.

The business newspaper Calcalist reported that Netanyahu was disturbed by a party Sharan held celebrating his expected promotion that was hosted and attended by top Likud activists.

“I don’t know who is briefing reporters against me, but the story is a complete lie,” Sharan told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “I didn’t run for Knesset in the last two elections, and I certainly have not acted as someone with political ambitions during my work in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

When asked if he would consider running for Knesset in the future, he said he was “not interested” and “not dealing with it at this stage.”

Sharan intends to return to his former post as a top official in the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company that is known by its Hebrew acronym Katza. He had been on unpaid leave from the company, and had until November to decide whether to return.

He downplayed reports about problems with Netanyahu.

“I have not been kicked out,” he said.

Netanyahu tried in July 2010 to appoint Sharan as consul-general in New York.

The PMO issued a statement last week 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.”

The cabinet secretary position has been vacant since January, when Avichai Mandelblit left to become attorney-general.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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