Panel Urges Disciplinary Action Against Netanyahu Advisers for Partisan Activity

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Avi Simhon (left) alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, 2017.
Avi Simhon (left) alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, 2017.Credit: Amit Shabi
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

The Civil Service Commission is recommending that disciplinary action be taken against two advisers to the prime minister, national security adviser Avi Simhon and animal rights adviser Tal Gilboa, for allegedly violating the ban barring civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity.

The disciplinary officer at the Civil Service Commission, Guy David, recently requested that their cases be investigated by the acting director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Tzachi Braverman. If found in violation, they would be subject to a warning or reprimand.

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According to allegations in a complaint filed by lawyer Shachar Ben-Meir, Simhon, who chairs the the National Economic Council that operates under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, attended an election meeting on January 13 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held with members of “I Am Shulman,” a group representing self-employed business people.

At the meeting, the Netanyahu called upon the members of the organization to vote for his Likud party and not to establish their own party or link up with another political party. Several days later, the leader of the group, Abir Kara, announced that he would be a candidate in the March 23 Knesset election on the Yamina slate headed by Naftali Bennett.

The complaint against Gilboa involves an online video interview she gave to the Kikar Hashabat website in which she said the prime minister and his family were undergoing “character assassination,” and that the public was being ungrateful for what Netanyahu has accomplished.

Ben Simhon and Gilboa are considered civil service staff members of the Prime Minister’s Office and not officials affiliated with the Likud party. They are therefore barred from engaging in partisan political activity, particularly activity related to an election campaign. When asked about it, Guy David, the disciplinary officer, said he has asked the acting director general of the Prime Minister’s Office to take disciplinary action against the two.

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