Conflict-of-interest Accords Tie Hands of Three of PM's Top Aides

Network of business and personal ties keep three top aides from dealing with myriad of issues.

Three of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's most senior aides have a ramified network of business and personal ties that bar them from dealing in their current posts with various issues and organizations, according to conflict-of-interest agreements that they signed with the government, which have come to light.

The three are national security advisor Uzi Arad, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser and chief spokesman Nir Hefetz.

Hefetz, who was appointed four months ago, previously edited Yedioth Ahronoth's "7 Days" supplement as well as the daily's sports section. His agreement obliges him to refrain from giving exclusive stories to "any newspaper or media outlet that is part of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper or the Yedioth Ahronoth network" during his first year on the job. Any article given to Israel's most widely read paper must also be given to at least two other media outlets of similar size.

Arad, who previously served as head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, began an unpaid leave from the IDC in April. He is therefore prohibited from any work on behalf of the IDC or within its framework; in particular, he cannot participate in organizing the annual Herzliya Conference, which is the institute's flagship event. He also is not permitted to deal with any issue affecting Israel Makov, who is chairman of the Institute for Policy and Strategy.

Arad also resigned as president of the Atlantic Forum of Israel, an organization he founded to advance Israel's status within NATO, as well as his job as head of research at the Gamzu institution, which conducts research and holds workshops and conferences. He has thus committed not to deal with any issues affecting those two organizations for two years from the date on which he assumed his government post.

Other institutions in which Arad was involved before his appointment - and whose affairs he has thus pledged not to deal with for one year - are the Posen Foundation for Jewish Education, the Zionist Council, the European Jewish Congress, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the Lambda company (which develops educational products) and the Meitar College of Judaism and Culture.

Finally, since his wife Ruth is a senior executive at Bank Leumi, a member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce executive committee and a member of the board of directors of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Arad has undertaken not to deal with any issues affecting these bodies.

Hauser was a partner in the Goldberg, Levy, Eran, Meiri, Zafrir law office before becoming cabinet secretary, and thus pledged not to deal with any matters associated with the firm. Because his specialty is in legal issues relating to the mass media, he is also bound not to deal with anything related to this field, such as media infrastructure or regulation, with two exceptions: Educational Television and the written press.

Hauser must also refrain totally from working on matters that involve former media clients for the duration of his tenure; that involve previous clients of other kinds for two years; and that involve clients of the firm whom he did not personally represent for one year.

Hauser also formerly served on the board of directors of the Dori Media Group, and therefore transferred all his shares and options in the firm to a blind trust, and has pledged not to deal with any issue affecting the firm for the duration of his tenure.

In addition, Hauser must refrain for one to two years from dealing with matters affecting other companies and organizations on whose boards he served, or which he was otherwise involved in, including the Otzar Mifalei Yam Hamelech company, the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, the Shalem Center and the Public Council for the Commemoration of Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl.

Finally, because he was involved in enterprises in the optics field, Hauser has agreed not to deal with any issue directly affecting this field as well.