Netanyahu Likely to Put Off Appointment of PMO Director-general Until Election Date Is Decided

The previous director-general, Eli Groner, quit two months ago and was reportedly involved in a harsh dispute with the premier's wife ■ Filling the role in the meantime is PMO chief of staff, Yuval Horowitz

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the PMO's former director-general, Eli Groner.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the PMO's former director-general, Eli Groner.Credit: GPO
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to postpone recruitment for the position of his office's director general until a date for new elections in Israel is determined, sources familiar with the recruitment process say.

In the meantime, the person who has been filling the position over the past several months while still working in the bureau is Yuval Horowitz, the chief of staff. This has made Horowitz the most senior figure in Netanyahu's entourage and in charge of many fields.

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The prime minister's office is saying that negotiations are under way to recruit an aide for Horowitz- Asher Hayun- who formerly worked in the office of Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu).

The bureau is looking to hire him as an officer manager that would operate under the director-general. If Hayun is indeed hired, this would serve as further proof that Netanyahu has no intention to recruit someone soon to fill the position of director-general.

The previous director-general, Eli Groner, announced his resignation in May after serving in the role for three years. Groner also served as the Israeli economic attaché in Washington and held senior positions in the business sector, including in companies such as McKinsey & Company (the U.S. consulting firm) and Tnuva (the Israeli dairy manufacturer).

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After Groner announced his resignation, Haaretz reported that Sara Netanyahu, the premier's wife, tried to physically assault Groner. He forcefully pushed her away until a different government official came between them to end the quarrel. The reason for the argument was allegedly a disagreement over the funding of expenses at the private Netanyahu residence in Caesarea.

Groner denied this report at the time, and a statement on behalf of the prime minister said: "This is yet another tale in the style of Sarna."

Igal Sarna, an Israeli journalist and publicist, published in 2016 a scathing Facebook post in which he made embarrassing claims about the Netanyahus. The premier and his wife sued Sarana for libel in what turned into a highly-publicized trial.

Relations between Groner and Sara Netanyahu were bad for a while and she even asked her husband to fire him on several occasions, sources in the Prime Minister's Office claim.

Sara Netanyahu responded at the time by to the report regarding her assault on Groner by saying that "these are lies that are being spread for 20 years now."

Netanyahu also responded, saying that he wished "for the Israeli media to say a word of truth about my wife for once."

In mid-June, Netanyahu announced that he was nominating Horowitz as the fill-in for the position of director-general in addition to his role as the chief of staff in the PMO. "Horowitz also often leads teams and committees to solve public issues, with the last one being the committee handling the Druze protest over the nation-state law."

The extra role will make it easier for Horowitz to promote certain issues, but on the other hand, the amount of responsibilities and the burden are far too heavy for one person to handle, sources in the prime minister's office are saying.

"As talented as he may be, no one person can man two such senior roles," a source familiar with the matter told Haaretz.

Nonetheless, a different source claimed that "the combination [of roles] enables Horowitz to easily promote initiatives and there is an entire staff with him that functions well and helps him."

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