A very important personnel issue is on the cabinet's agenda this morning: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask his ministers to extend by six months the appointment of Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander, the man in charge of appointing and disciplining civil servants. Netanyahu decided that Hollander must stay at his post, contrary to the attorney general's directive and the spirit of the cabinet's subsequent decision limiting the commissioner's term to six years.
Hollander, who has been civil service commissioner for 14 years, is a controversial official. His supporters consist of himself and Netanyahu. He is convinced that his work is good and essential, but his performance has been the focus of very critical reports by the state comptroller. Still, even if Hollander has unique talents, the need for personnel changes trumps them. This principle is true for every post, much more so one of power like the civil service commissioner.
Previous attorney general Menachem Mazuz worked to set limits on the terms of senior civil servants. Most were set at four years; for example, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and the police commissioner. The law on the Shin Bet security service limits its head's term to five years, with a possibility to extend it.
The Mossad chief should also serve no longer than this; Netanyahu's mistaken decision to give Meir Dagan an additional eighth year led, among other things, to the failure attributed to the Mossad during the operation in Dubai last January. Officials who served extended terms of many years, including the director general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Gideon Frank, and the Defense Ministry's security chief, Yehiel Horev, retired during the previous government's term.
For some reason, Hollander was saved from this fate. Mazuz had mercy on him and allowed the cabinet to end his service with a soft landing rather than a sharp stab. Mazuz had just left his post in January, when Hollander got a new lease on life. Netanyahu, contrary to all the rules of proper administration he loves to boast about, wanted Hollander at his side, for his own reasons.
The civil service, as opposed to government service, needs a new commissioner - fresh and impartial. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein should intervene, thwart the extension of Hollander's term and not leave this task to petitioners to the High Court of Justice.
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