17 Actions in Three Months: Tzachi Hanegbi Was Israel's Communications Minister in Title Only

Hanegbi should have been more involved, particularly in light of the fact that in July 2016 he was assigned responsibility for landline telephony and for Bezeq, key areas for the ministry, after Netanyahu recused himself from the issues

Tzachi Hanegbi with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tzachi Hanegbi with Benjamin Netanyahu. Emil Salman

When Tzachi Hanegbi was appointed acting communications minister in February, he promised to familiarize himself with his new position and make decisions independently from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had previously held the portfolio.

But entries in Hanegbi’s appointments book show he engaged in just 17 actions of any kind on behalf of the ministry during his three-month tenure. Ayoub Kara was appointed communication minister in May. Hanegbi’s diary entries were obtained by Hatzlacha, the Consumer Movement for the Promotion of a Fair Society and Economy.

The implication is that Hanegbi, who served concurrently as minister for regional cooperation, a position he still holds, left the Communication Ministry’s day-to-day operations and policy making to others. Hanegbi should have been more involved, particularly in light of the fact that in July 2016 he was assigned responsibility for landline telephony and for Bezeq, key areas for the ministry, after Netanyahu recused himself from the issues.

His absence from the job could prove to be significant: Netanyahu was forced to relinquish control of the ministry in the wake of a High Court of Justice petition that claimed he held too many portfolios simultaneously and suffered too many conflicts of interests to be an effective communications minister.

The ministry’s director general continued to be Shlomo Filber, a Netanyahu political appointee who is the subject of an Israel Securities Authority investigation. Filber allegedly provided confidential information to Bezeq, among other things.

Three of Hanegbi’s activities during the three months were meetings with Filber, apparently dedicated to Netanyahu’s abortive campaign to close down the new public broadcasting corporation, Kan, and/or to split off its news divisions.

Two of the 17 activities were meetings with the Greek communications minister, one in Israel and a second in the United States.

At no time during his spell as acting communications minister did Hanegbi meet with executives from Bezeq or Hot, two of Israel’s biggest telecommunications companies.