New Transportation Ministry Chief yet to be Chosen3 min read
Miri Regev, the Transportation Minister, had appointed a political operative and former aid as head of the ministry.
The appointment had been deemed controversial because a civil service panel and legal advisers have deemed the individual unfit.
The cabinet had been scheduled to vote on the appointment on Sunday, but decided to postpone it.
While the assembled ministers were informed by Regev that era of bureaucrats had ended, but they still decided to postpone the vote for the appointment of Moshe Ben Zaken for a week.
It did appear that the Transportation Minister had the support of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister.
He had said at the meeting that sometimes a political appointment is necessary and appropriate.
Before the meeting, a determination of the civil service panel regarding Regev’s choice being unqualified for the position of the director general of the ministry had been backed by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.
According to reports, the Attorney General had disclosed her opposition to the appointment to the cabinet ministers via a letter.
She had written that the appointment had a legal obstacle and that the Transportation Ministry’s functioning could be impaired due to its approval.
On Sunday, a similar opinion had also been expressed by the Transportation Ministry’s legal adviser, Yael Cohen, who said that the appointment had a legal impediment.
On Wednesday, Ben Zaken’s past had been brought up by the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, as he had been a political operative, which meant that he was unfit for the job.
Even though the recommendations of the committee are not binding, it is rare for the government to go against them.
In the Knesset hallway, Regev was heard talking on the phone and said that senior bureaucrats should not tell a minister about who can be chosen as director.
This clash was just the latest in a number of showdowns that have occurred between the judiciary and the new government established by Netanyahu.
A reform plan comprising of four points had been outlined by Justice Minister Yariv Levin last week that was aimed at establishing parliamentary supremacy and neutering judicial independence.
This saw the tensions between the two branches reach a crescendo. The government’s reform plan had previously been criticized by Baharav-Miara and referred to it as a threat to the democracy in Israel.
Before coming into power, some of the members of Netanyahu’s Likud party who are loyal to him had threatened to fire the attorney general over some of the decisions she had made in the previous months.
Even though the cabinet opted to delay the vote regarding the appointment, they did make some important appointments.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Iran hawk and a longtime political ally of Netanyahu was approved as the National Security Council’s head and as national security adviser.
A former adviser to Levin, Itamar Donefeld was also confirmed as the Justice Ministry’s director general, even though he did not have any qualifications or legal background and ministry officials had also been against him.