Likud's Ben-Lulu Gets Nod as Tel Aviv Port Complex CEO

But ex-MK's qualifications and political connections in question.

The board of directors of Otzar Mifalei Yam, which manages the tourist and entertainment complex in the Tel Aviv Port, last Friday approved the appointment of former Likud MK Danny Ben-Lulu as company CEO. Despite complaints by business owners at the port about a political appointment, it was approved by the board of directors, 8-1, yet still requires the approval of the Civil Service Commission. The panel will examine Ben-Lulu's political connections and qualifications for the position.

Ben-Lulu, an MK 2003-2006, remains a member of the Likud Central Committee. He competed in the tender for the position with 70 candidates, including Michael Karsanti, CEO of the Caesarea Development Corporation; architect David Socket, vice president for planning at Africa Israel; Ariel Zilber, CEO of the underwater observatory in Eilat; and Iris Baratz, acting CEO of the Tel Aviv Port.

Former MK Danny Ben-Lulu

Ben-Lulu won the appointment despite the board's doubts whether he met the tender's minimum condition of five years' senior administrator's experience in relevant fields such as retailing, real estate and tourism. In addition, Haaretz learned that Ben-Lulu's grades in the suitability tests conducted by the placement firm Keinan Sheffy were not the best, but the headhunting committee, led by board chairwoman Naomi Enoch, chose Ben-Lulu in first place. Zilber was second and Socket third.

Ben-Lulu came to the board meeting Thursday with a PowerPoint presentation of his plans for the post. After winning the board's approval, he is subject to an examination by Keinan Sheffy and the firm's legal adviser, attorney Aharon Sperber, to ensure he meets the minimum requirements of professional experience - this, in addition to the background check the Civil Service Commission will perform.

The most pertinent professional experience Ben-Lulu seems to have had for the port job was his previous tenure as deputy chairman of the Postal Service's southern district. Today he owns three businesses, one of which, B.D. Assets Improvement, handles projects connected to National Master Plan 38 for the earthquake-proofing of older buildings. In addition, Ben-Lulu is consultant for the Ashdod Municipality Economic Company, while his brother Leon is the city's deputy mayor. The port board of directors recognized Ben-Lulu's tenure as an MK as professional experience.

His academic degree is from Champlain College. The Knesset website says Ben-Lulu has a bachelor's degree in business administration, but does not say from which college. Ben-Lulu refused to answer Haaretz's question on this issue, saying only that he has yet to get confirmation of his appointment and is waiting patiently.

Otzar Mifalei Yam said the company is facing many challenges and that the new CEO will be the person deemed most likely to deal with them for the benefit of the public and business owners in the complex.

With 3.5 million visitors annually, the Tel Aviv Port recently became the second most popular site in Israel after the Western Wall. Otzar Mifalei Yam is administered jointly by the Transportation Ministry, headed by Likud Minister Yisrael Katz, and Tel Aviv Municipality, and is defined as a government-municipal corporation under the supervision of the Government Companies Authority.

If his appointment is confirmed, Ben-Lulu will receive a salary similar to that of an MK, about NIS 35,000 a month.