Netanyahu said looking to axe public servants appointed by previous government

Premier’s aides reportedly seeking to bring in loyalists in place of officials hired by Bennett and Lapid, who decries ‘witch hunt’

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to fire all public servants appointed to significant posts by the previous government in order to ensure that only his loyalists remain.

The premier’s aides are putting together a list of all those brought on by former prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid over the past year and a half, Channel 12 reported on Thursday, without citing any sources.

Those in the crosshairs are not political appointees who traditionally resign in the handover process that took place last week, if not before. Instead, it is professional appointments made by the previous governments whose jobs are at risk, the report said.

Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to take advantage of a longstanding policy that allows government officials to fire public servants if they fail to perform adequately throughout a two-year trial period, after which such dismissals are more complicated. Since the previous government fell apart before that period expired, Netanyahu may not have an issue removing Bennett’s and Lapid’s appointees.

Responding to the report, Lapid called the policy a modern-day “witch hunt.”

Political appointees are another story, however, and a handful have already stepped down rather than serve under the new government.

Israel’s outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with his successor, incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

Those include Israel’s ambassador to France Yael German, who was appointed by Lapid and submitted her resignation letter last week.

“Sadly,” German wrote to Netanyahu, “the government you established and lead includes representatives of parties whose extreme positions are expressed in its guidelines, in its policies, and in statements on legislation — illegitimate legislation in my eyes — it intends to pass.”

Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana are also reportedly seeking to replace the current Knesset secretary-general, an apolitical administrative position in the parliament.

If they move ahead with such a move, it would mark the first time in history that a Knesset secretary-general has been ousted from their job.

According to a Wednesday report by Channel 12 news, Netanyahu and Ohana believe that Dan Marzuk is too aligned with the opposition Yesh Atid party, and they want instead to install a loyalist in the job.

Marzuk, who was appointed and approved by the last government, took over the position last year after Yardena Meller-Horowitz retired following 13 years in the role.

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