Shabbat Driver for Netanyahu's Sons Raises Eyebrows Among ultra-Orthodox

Ometz good government organization says it's 'insolent and outrageous' for the state to finance the personal needs of the prime minister's family.

The Netanyahu family at Tel Gezer, October 2016. From left: Yair, Sara, Benjamin and Avner.
Kobi Gideon/GPO

The part-time job posting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office recently issued seeking a driver on the government's payroll to work over Shabbat has angered members of the ultra-Orthodox community, as well as raised eyebrows at an organization promoting good governmental practices.

Sources at the Prime Minister's Office have told TheMarker, Haaretz's business publication, that the main responsibility of the driver will be chauffeuring Netanyahu's sons, who are in their 20s, over the weekend, within limitations imposed by the Shin Bet security service. But the Netanyahu family issued a statement calling the information inaccurate, noting in part that one of the Netanyahu sons, Avner, is Sabbath-observant and does not travel by car on Shabbat and that neither son is involved in deciding security arrangements that are provided to them.

The driver position is described in the job posting as a student position of up to 120 hours a month. The Prime Minister's Office already has a pool of drivers available as needed for a range of tasks, including transporting the Netanyahu sons, Avner, 22 and Yair, 25, to places of entertainment. Some of the drivers have complained about being overworked, however, and have asked to be relieved of transporting the Netanyahu sons on weekends.

In light of the prohibition according to halakha, traditional Jewish religious law, against operating machinery on the Sabbath and Jewish holy days, the ultra-Orthodox Hadrei Haredim website took the Prime Minister's Office to task for over the job posting. "The case reveals a number of serious issues and questions that require thorough clarification," the website stated, including the prospect that the office would hire Jews as drivers "only for the entertainment needs of the Netanyahu family's sons and their friends." The website also questioned why such a driver would be on the public payroll.

The security division of the Prime Minister's Office underlined the fact that it and not the Netanyahu family sets the standards for the protection and transportation arrangements for the Netanyahu sons.                       

In response for this article, the Prime Minister's Office said it employs drivers on weekends who are university students with the approval of the civil service commission. Nevertheless, the Ometz good government organization sent a letter to the Prime Minister's Office protesting the employment of a government-funded driver under such circumstances, calling it "insolent and outrageous" for the state to finance the personal needs of the prime minister's family, suggesting that the prime minister pay for the cost of transportation.