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Citing Trump, Netanyahu seeks more loyalists in civil service

Prime minister reportedly envious of president-elect’s ability to fill more than 4,000 positions in the administration

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 11, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 11, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly envious of the freedom US President-elect Donald Trump has in making civil service appointments and wants to emulate that in Israel.

“Trump can make 4,000 appointments. We should be able to make a few hundred appointments that don’t need a tender,” Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, according to a report in the Haaretz daily, which quoted a minister in the meeting.

“What’s for certain is that with Trump, the officials will carry out his policies. We also need to able to govern,” he said.

Netanyahu has set up a committee led by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin that will explore ways to remove some of the checks and balances currently in place regarding public appointments, Channel 2 reported on Sunday night.

Most civil service posts in Israel are filled through a tender process that is supposed to ensure that appointees have the professional qualifications to take on the job. It is also meant to weed out instances of nepotism and cronyism.

President-elect Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
President-elect Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

The move immediately drew condemnation from opposition lawmakers.

“Netanyahu as usual thinks only of himself, his [political survival] and his rule,” Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said in a statement. “So for that he needs to give out hundreds of jobs to his associates. The public isn’t lacking in bureaucracy, but in leadership with integrity and vision,” said Livni, a former foreign and justice minister.

Fellow Zionist Union lawmaker Micky Rosenthal accused Netanyahu of undermining the professional civil service.

“Netanyahu isn’t satisfied with envoys, he wants to put his whole weight on corrupting the civil service by force ,” he wrote on Facebook. “The Prime Minister wants full politicization of the professional civil service. Quality professionals who are beholden to the public bother him. He wants obedience.”

Rosenthal then listed a series of political appointees Netanyahu has tried to make, but which have fallen through, or have been deemed problematic.

“Personal and political appointees owe more to those who appoint them and less to the public, and if Netanyahu wants to complete the process, we will get officials who aren’t as good and a much more corrupt state,” he wrote.

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