Netanyahu's Choice for Likud Director General Is Legally Forbidden to Hold Public Posts

Yossi Shelly confessed in a plea deal to fraud and perjury after lying about his affiliation with the Likud political party.

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Yossi Shelly, the veteran political activist who was barred by a Jerusalem court last year from serving in a public post, is slated to become director general of the Likud party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced.

Shelly served previously as director general of the Be'er Sheva municipality, and as chairman of the Israel Post postal service board. In 2008, while he was chairman of the Israel Post board, he was indicted for making false statements to the postal service appointments committee.

He was charged with perjury and aggravated fraud for stating that he had no affiliation with any political party, despite the fact that he was a Likud activist and headed a group of registered voters in the 2002 party primary.

Last year he dodged a conviction when he struck a plea deal agreeing not to hold any public position for three years.

Likud officials Tuesday insisted that they had examined the plea bargain and looked into Shelly’s history, and that the party’s legal adviser determined there was no obstacle to appointing him director general.

Under the plea bargain, reached in 2012 with the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office, Shelly confessed to violating his legal obligation and the court agreed not to convict him, although it did determine that he had indeed committed a crime. Shelly was prohibited from serving in any public post for three years from the date of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruling. That was in June of 2012, less than one year ago.

The deal applies to elected public positions; appointments by a minister or the government; and public positions in government corporations, mixed corporations and corporations that fall under the Government Companies Law. Shelly is also prohibited from serving on the board of a public company or of a local authority, including a municipality.

The agreement does allow Shelly to run for a seat on a local authority council or for its leadership. As a political party, Likud does not fall under any of those categories, though the parties are financed by public funds.

As part of the deal, Shelly deposited a NIS 100,000 bond with the court, and once every six months he must sign a statement affirming that he is not serving in any prohibited position.

According to the amended indictment, Shelly lied to an appointments committee in Jerusalem when he was a candidate for director general of the postal service, stating that he had no political affiliation, when in fact he had been a Likud activist since the 1990s.

In a candidate questionnaire asking whether he had “any past or present affiliation or business connection with a minister, including professional connections, donations or other business connections involving money or benefits that were worth money,” Shelly responded: “In 1996 I served as a member of the Likud Central Committee, but I resigned the position before my term was over. Since then, I have not run for or been elected to any party organization connected with Likud except for my status as a member only.”

The Likud secretariat, led by Netanyahu, is scheduled to meet on Thursday at the party headquarters at Metzudat Ze’ev in Tel Aviv to confirm Shelly’s appointment.

A high-ranking party official said Tuesday that “Shelly has not been active in the party in recent years, and it’s not clear why Netanyahu chose him for the position.”

But a Likud MK on Tuesday stated that Shelly was “a politician through and through. He is no pushover, and there is no one better than him for the position.”

Shelly is to replace Gadi Arieli, who served as the party’s director general for the past seven years and is leaving due to a prolonged conflict with Netanyahu.

“It’s no secret that a rift has developed between Arieli and Netanyahu,” a high-ranking party official said Tuesday. “The people of Metzudat Ze’ev, Arieli first among them, took no part in the latest party campaign. There was complete compartmentalization of the party’s managers. Netanyahu has wanted Arieli to go for some time. They met Monday, and Arieli agreed to leave.”

Yossi ShellyCredit: Ariel Schalit

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