Drivers fired by PM’s office reinstated, but won’t ferry Netanyahu
3 veteran chauffeurs set to testify in Netanyahu trial are restored to PMO due to violation of a conflict-of-interest agreement, but will only perform office tasks
Three drivers fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office have been reinstated, but not to their original positions, the Prime Minister’s Office said Thursday, a day after Deputy Attorney General Gil Limon ordered their jobs be restored.
The drivers, purportedly removed from their positions because they were set to serve as prosecution witnesses at Netanyahu’s graft trial, will work for the office carrying out daily tasks, but not driving Netanyahu personally, a PMO statement said on Thursday.
“On December 31, 2022, the contracts of the prime minister’s drivers expired, and now they will continue to be employed in the driver pool of the Prime Minister’s Office under the same conditions,” the statement said.
According to Channel 12, the drivers received a message on Thursday morning from the PMO telling them they were permitted to return to “sit in the drivers’ room” and that “at most” they will be used for day-to-day activities by the office, despite having decades of experience.
Despite the move, Channel 12 reported Thursday evening that the PMO’s legal adviser had instructed the office to return the drivers to their full duties as chauffeurs.
Earlier this week, Limon wrote to PMO Director General Yossi Shelley explaining that, following an investigation into the matter, the decision to fire the drivers was in violation of a conflict-of-interest agreement signed by the premier’s chief of staff, Tzachi Braverman, which barred him from making decisions regarding witnesses in Netanyahu’s trial, according to several media reports citing a copy of the letter.
Limon said that “caution and special care” must be taken when making administrative decisions involving employees who are witnesses in the trial, to prevent “even the appearance” of interference in the cases.
Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies wrongdoing and claims the charges were fabricated in an attempted political coup led by the police, the state prosecution, the media and leftist rivals.
The so-called Case 1000 revolves around accusations that Netanyahu received expensive gifts from businessmen in exchange for benefits he provided to them.
The three drivers who were fired had reportedly contradicted Netanyahu’s testimony to police about the origin of certain cigars.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report