Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced a series of personal appointments on Tuesday, naming prominent figures and those he has worked with closely to key staff positions in his first week in office.
He appointed Tal Gan-Zvi as his chief of staff, Shimrit Meir as diplomatic adviser and Matan Sidi as his diplomatic spokesman. National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and the prime minister’s military secretary, Avi Blot, will remain in their posts for the time being.
Gan-Zvi, a Haifa native and graduate of the yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Eli, is a prominent figure in the religious-Zionist community. He has been considered Bennett’s right-hand man since he served as Bennett’s chief of staff when the latter was economic affairs minister, and later moved with him when he was named education minister and defense minister. Gan-Zvi managed Yamina’s negotiating team in coalition talks with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
Meir has been a regular commentator on issues of diplomacy and defense, particularly those connected to the Arab world, for several media outlets. Until recently, she led the Link organization, which deals with media initiatives in the Arab world.
Sidi was Bennett’s spokesman for several years. He then served as an adviser to State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman, and recently returned to Yamina’s election campaign.
Under civil service regulations, the prime minister is permitted to make personal appointments to some 40 positions in his office and personal residence that are considered positions of confidence. These include his bureau chief, his bureau administrator, media advisers, Knesset liaison, political adviser, diplomatic adviser, secretaries, drivers, household staff and others.
Bennett must still name a director-general for the Prime Minister’s Office. The three leading candidates are Eyal Gabbai, the chairman of the Meuhedet HMO, who served in this capacity for three years in Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 government; Shmuel Abuav, who was director-general of the Education Ministry under Bennett and Dvir Kahana, the director-general of the Diaspora Ministry.
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A leading candidate for the position of cabinet secretary is Gil Bringer, who was fellow Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked’s legislation adviser, coordinating the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for her when she served as justice minister.