Eshel’s Email Dreadful Advice From the Prime Minister’s Office

Barnea-Farago should not be dealing with political or party matters such as coalition negotiations. She should have explained to Netanyahu that he must ask Likud’s legal adviser whether the selection of Eshel to conduct the negotiations is kosher.

Ido Baum
Ido Baum
Ido Baum
Ido Baum

Picture the following email: “Dear Shlomit, the prime minister has asked me to head his coalition negotiations team. Does my record create a problem?”

Now picture that this imaginary email was signed by criminal kingpin Nissim Alperon. Natan Eshel is not a convicted criminal, but he is a disciplinary offender who was convicted by his own confession and dismissed from the civil service. And so the legal adviser of the Prime Minister’s Office, Shlomit Barnea-Farago, thrice failed in the email affair when Eshel asked her opinion.

First, she is not Eshel’s legal adviser, and just as Alperon is not entitled to receive her legal opinion, so Eshel is no longer entitled to this honor since his dismissal a year ago from the civil service. Second, she is not allowed to give legal advice on political matters. Third, her advice was wrong and does not meet the criteria of proper conduct in public matters.

Barnea-Farago’s job is to keep proper standards from declining and occasionally to utter the magic word to the prime minister and his messengers: “No.” As the person responsible for setting boundaries, her failure regarding Eshel is particularly grating. The man simply should not be there.

Barnea-Farago’s response to Eshel brought him in the back door of the place from which he was dismissed in a disciplinary hearing. Thus she failed in enforcing disciplinary procedure in the place where it should be most strictly maintained the prime minister’s bureau.

The way Barnea-Farago should have dealt with the email was to find out from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whether he had agreed to Eshel’s approaching her. If the answer was affirmative, she should then have explained to Netanyahu that Eshel, as a private citizen, cannot seek her counsel. The subject should have been broached with her by the prime minister or an official in his bureau. Moreover, as a civil servant, especially as an attorney in the civil service, Barnea-Farago should not be dealing with political or party matters such as coalition negotiations. She should have explained to Netanyahu that he must ask Likud’s legal adviser whether the selection of Eshel to conduct the negotiations is kosher.

The essence of the matter is this: Barnea-Farago’s legal opinion was improper. The High Court of Justice ruled in 1990 that coalition agreements are “concluded by public figures whom the voters have appointed to manage legislative and government systems; thus, the agreements are not intended to regulate issues involving private or individual matters.”

Natan Eshel. Credit: Nir Keidar

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