Religious Settler Seen as Top Candidate for Israel's Next Cabinet Secretary

Prime Minister Netanyahu is considering four candidates for the post, following the resignation last week of Zvi Hauser, who played a key role.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

In addition to coalition negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is busy weighing four potential candidates for the post of cabinet secretary following the resignation of Zvi Hauser last week.

The leading candidate is former Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, who has maintained good relations with Netanyahu and helped him formulate Israel's foreign policy. Schneller, a religious settler, is considered an opinionated person who believes Israel's right and left should reach a common plan for an agreement with the Palestinians.

Another candidate is Perah Lerner, Netanyahu's advisor for Knesset affairs. If appointed, she will be only the second woman to serve as government secretary, and the first since 1968. Lerner began working as a close adviser to the prime minister with the establishment of the last government, serving as a liaison with the Knesset. Before joining Netanyahu's staff, Lerner served as parliamentary assistant and head of former MK Zevulun Orlev's office, as well as an adviser to Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter.

Sources close to Netanyahu also mentioned the possibility that the general director of the Justice Ministry, Guy Rotkopf, could be appointed. Rotkopf served as head of former Justice Minister Daniel Freidman's professional staff, and was promoted to general director of the ministry by the current minister, Yaakov Neeman.

A fourth candidate is attorney Shlomo Filber, a former head of the Yesha Council, who served as the head of Netanyahu's office between 2001 and 2003.

The government secretary usually deals with preparations for government meetings, and coordination between the prime minister, the president and the Knesset. But Hauser did more than that: He dealt with the issue of illegal outposts, and promoted the compromise that enabled the evacuation of the houses of the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, a settlement in the West Bank. Hauser often voiced his opinions in security matters: in the debate before the Mavi Marmara crisis, Hauser argued that the ship should be allowed to reach the shores of Gaza, instead of confronting the activists at sea. Hauser opposed the initiative to split the post of attorney general, and urged the defense minister, Ehud Barak, to speed up the construction of the security fence in the south, in order to prevent the entrance of illegal immigrants to Israel.

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