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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Israeli minister says ‘it’s my job’ to appoint friends

David Amsalem has admitted attempting to appoint people “I know and hold in high esteem” to government positions

Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem of the ruling Likud party has rejected accusations that he is engaging in nepotism, after he sought to appoint friends and personal acquaintances to government positions.

“That is my job, due to my authority to appoint directors,” Amsalem told Israeli broadcaster Kan on Sunday. “I put forward people that I know and hold in high esteem,” he said, adding that this includes people inside of his personal social circles.

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Amsalem’s comments came after a clash with Government Companies Authority director Michal Rosenbaum, who had reportedly refused Amsalem’s appointment suggestions for several government companies. He subsequently called for Rosenbaum to be terminated from her position, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday.

The Companies Authority, or the Israeli Corporations Authority, oversees the supervision, enforcement and control of most major corporations in Israel.

Responding to Amsalem’s comments, Merav Michaeli, leader of the opposition Labor party, wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “This is how government corruption is done. Looting the public purse and corruption at its best.”

Another critic, Idan Roll of Yesh Atid, added online his view that Amsalem views the Authority as “a pool of jobs that he currently can’t exploit” while it is being overseen by Rosenbaum. National Unity party MK Sharren Haskel added the current government is “busy all day long with how to promote their cronies.”

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Last week Amsalem called for the removal of Rosenbaum from her position, saying that she was “aggressive and disrespectful” and that she had disobeyed his orders. However, she countered by saying the government official’s demands were “illegitimate … especially in the realm of appointments and wages.”

According to local reports, the appointments of people to around 300 positions on 70 boards of directors have been frozen – with some of the companies unable to form a necessary quorum to make certain decisions at board level until appointments are made.

Amsalem is a key ally of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and requested that the Government Companies Authority be placed under his control as part of a condition of his joining Netanyahu’s cabinet. Previously, it was under the authority of the Finance Ministry.