Amsalem accused of illegitimate demands as he moves to fire government firms’ head

Minister asks for dismissal of Michal Rosenbaum, claiming she’s unsuitable for the job; Government Companies Authority director says she will not be cowed by threats

(L) MK David Amsalem in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022; and (R) Michal Rosenbaum. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90; Finance Ministry)
(L) MK David Amsalem in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022; and (R) Michal Rosenbaum. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90; Finance Ministry)

Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem on Sunday requested the immediate termination of Government Companies Authority director Michal Rosenbaum, claiming that she was unsuitable for the position.

In response, Rosenbaum charged that Amsalem was working to make illegitimate and political appointments at dozens of government companies.

Amsalem made the request to Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz, accusing Rosenbaum of “aggressive and disrespectful” behavior, and claiming that she disobeyed his orders and bullied employees.

Rosenbaum denied the allegations, and said Amsalem was trying to have her dismissed for her refusal to carry out his “illegitimate demands, especially in the realm of appointments and wages.”

“In the less than four months since the minister took office, this is the third attempt he has made to remove the director of the Government Companies Authority,” she said.

“In a detailed opinion, the attorney general has clarified that the authority operates legally, and independently adheres to the rules of proper management,” the statement read.

“She will not be discouraged by an attempt to threaten her, and she is determined to continue to exercise her judgment independently and without fear,” Rosenbaum said.

The Ynet news outlet said that amid the disagreement, most of the necessary appointments to government companies have now been frozen. There are reportedly around 300 open positions on 70 boards of directors, with some of them unable to convene and make decisions due to the lack of a quorum.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and MK David Amsalem during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, February 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The situation has reached a point where large companies including the Israel Electric Corporation, state-housing company Amidar, and the Netivei Israel – National Transport Infrastructure Company, will not have functioning boards of directors by the end of the year, and will be unable to legally operate.

Unnamed senior ministers attacked Amsalem, telling Channel 12 that he was demonstrating “bullying and childish behavior that hinders the government’s work.”

Amsalem is a Likud lawmaker and key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as a minister in the Justice Ministry and as the minister in charge of liaising between the government and the Knesset.

The Government Companies Authority was traditionally part of the Finance Ministry, but Amsalem insisted it be moved under his control as part of the agreement he made with Netanyahu to join the cabinet.

An unnamed senior official at the Finance Ministry told Ynet that the attempted dismissal of Rosenbaum was directly related to her opposition to the firing of Israel Postal Company chair Mishael Vaknin in a move initiated by Amsalem and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi.

The Postal Company has contended that Vaknin’s dismissal is politically motivated, to allow Karhi and Amsalem to appoint coalition loyalists to the service’s board of directors.

Last month, Amsalem, who has a history of incendiary and offensive remarks, declared that Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara was “the most dangerous person” in Israel and a clear threat to democracy, days after he called for her ouster.

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