Government Harms Professionalism of Civil Service With Temporary Appointments to Senior Positions

>> Read the full position paper in pdf

In a position paper written for Zulat for Equality and Human Rights, Adv. Eitay Mack reviews the government’s use of temporary appointments to senior positions in the Civil Service in a way that harms its professionalism. This system enables the assignment of jobs to cronies who lack the proper qualifications for a permanent appointment and damages the functioning of the professional echelon and the public’s trust in it. In order to reduce this phenomenon, Zulat proposes to tighten the selection of candidates for temporary appointments and to add as a default the requirement to consult with a Civil Service committee or other relevant bodies (as established by law and in government resolutions), so their advice to the government/minister should be based on the professional and ethical competence required for the said position and on the fact that it is a temporary assignment.

The position paper was written in the aftermath of the government’s approval of the appointment of Israel Police Superintendent Kobi Yaakobi, a crony of Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Likud, as Israel Prison Service’s Acting Commissioner despite his lack of experience on the subject of incarceration, as well as Minister David Amsalem’s decision to appoint Yanki Quint as the Government Companies Authority‘s Acting Director.

Temporary appointments are not a new invention, but the phenomenon intensified in recent years due to the coronavirus crisis and the political upheaval stemming from the indictments against Prime Minister Netanyahu for breach of trust, accepting bribes, and fraud. This system clashes head-on with the basic conception of public administration in Israel, which sees the Civil Service as a professional and apolitical entity derived from its status as a trustee of the public.

The option of temporary appointments is anchored in the Civil Service Regulations and in the Appointments Law. Up until the enactment of Amendment No. 15 in 2010, a ministry director or a government-approved officeholder could be replaced by a temporary appointee for a three-month period only. After the amendment, a minister may initially name a temporary appointee for a period not exceeding three months in consultation with the Civil Service Commissioner, and after consulting with the latter, he may extend it for a period that does not exceed six months. In addition, with the consent of the Commissioner and the Attorney General, a minister may notify the government of the extension of the temporary assignment beyond the aforementioned six months, should special circumstances justify it and for the duration of those circumstances.

In the wake of the amendment, the government/ministers have often chosen the “creative solution” of temporarily appointing patently politically-affiliated candidates for up to six months, in order to validate future appointments that do away with basic eligibility conditions and with professional opinions ruling the candidate unfit for a permanent appointment.

For fear of inappropriate and unworthy temporary appointments made for political-personal reasons and contrary to the public interest, Zulat proposes to amend Article 23a of the Appointments Law, to include as a default the obligation to conduct a professional and ethical examination of the suitability of temporary appointees by a Civil Service committee or other relevant bodies, taking into account the requirements of the position and the fact that it is a temporary assignment.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.