Israel’s Justice Minister Appoints Cousin as Bureau Chief

Amir Ohana says 'there is no legal or other barrier' to hiring her, citing her experience in Economy and Industry Ministry

Justice Minister Amir Ohana
אוהד צויגנברג

Israel's recently appointed Justice Minister Amir Ohana has hired a cousin to be his bureau chief.

Ohana, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party who took the position in June, brought along with him to his new post a number of trusted aides to replace officials appointed by the previous minister, Ayelet Shaked. These jobs are defined as “positions of trust” that do not require a competitive hiring process, and a minister is entitled by law to fill a small number of such posts as they see fit.

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One of those Ohana hired is his cousin, Narkis Alfi, who served until recently as head of the bureau of the Economy and Industry Ministry's director general.

“There is no legal or other barrier to employing Ms. Alfi in a position of trust,” said Ohana. “Hiring within ministers’ bureaus is conducted according to Civil Service regulations and Civil Service Commission guidelines. Accordingly, the legal appointment found no obstacle to employing Ms. Alfi.”

Ohana noted that family relationship is not a disqualifying according to civil service regulations. “She is a candidate with rich and proven professional experience as the head of the bureau of the Economy Ministry's director general," added Ohana. "Ministers have the right to appoint to the position a bureau chief on the basis of personal trust and long-term acquaintance. We regret that there are interested parties who are trying to cast aspersions for irrelevant reasons on the minister’s office, which has always acted according to the law, professional recommendations and mandatory rules and regulations.”

When Ohana took office last month, he said: “I’m not arriving here in a bulldozer or tank,” commenting on the statements of MK Moti Yogev of the Union of Right-Wing Parties. Yogev said in 2015 that the Supreme Court should be bulldozed. Ohana told his staff at the ceremony marking the change of ministers held at the justice Ministry that there would not be any disagreement between them over the need for strong, objective and completely independent courts. Ohana repeated in his speech statement he had said in a television interview that not all court rulings needed to be followed.