Three drivers, ostensibly fired because they are prosecution witnesses in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, were restored to their positions working in the premier’s convoy but will not drive Netanyahu’s car, the Prime Minister’s Office said Thursday.
The veteran drivers were reinstated to the PMO earlier this month at the instruction of Deputy Attorney General Gil Limon, but were not permitted to drive in the prime minister’s convoy, though they had done so in the past.
Last week the drivers filed a request at the Labor Court that they be returned to their previous assignments, and on Tuesday the State Attorney’s Office told the court it backs them.
“All orders that were issued to change the position, service, and status of the drivers in the [Prime Minister’s] Office… must be annulled,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a filing to the Labor Court.
Following the decision to fire the drivers, Limon ordered their jobs be restored, telling PMO Director General Yossi Shelley that the decision violated a conflict of interest agreement signed by the premier’s chief of staff, Tzachi Braverman, that barred him from making decisions regarding witnesses in Netanyahu’s trial.
According to a Channel 12 report, the drivers subsequently received a message 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.
Netanyahu is on trial over three cases of corruption, including Case 1000, in which he is accused of providing quid pro quo benefits to two billionaires in return for receiving luxury gifts, including cigars, from them.
The three drivers in question gave evidence to the police contradicting Netanyahu’s claim that he purchased many of the cigars from his own pocket, and they are expected to give evidence in the trial next month.