Despite confessing to the sexual harassment and counter to specific instructions from the Civil Service Commission – former Prime Minister's Office bureau chief Natan Eshel continues to receive a salary and other job benefits.
According to Tuesday report in "Yediot Aharonot" Eshel, who is still considered the strongman in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's camp and credited with brokering the unity government deal between the Likud and Kadima, has retained the use of a high-end government car and a cell phone, paid for by the State. He is also still receiving NIS 40,000 (roughly $10,500) a month.
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Under the terms of his plea bargain, Eshel admitted to harassment, conduct unbecoming a government offical and violation of R.'s privacy. He promised to resign from the Civil Service on March 1 and not to resume public office.
The former PMO chief also asked the Civil Service Commission to grant him NIS 240,000 to help him with the transition and allow him to use his work vehicle for an additional three months – and was flatly refused.
Still sitting pretty on the taxpayers' dime? Eshel (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)
Director of the Civil Service Commission's Disciplinary Branch Attorney Assaf Rosenberg, decided that as of March 1, Eshel would cease to be a government employee. Netanyahu's former bureau chief would receive a "transition" grant of NIS 120,000 ($31,400) and would be required to return his car and cell phone.
However, the Prime Minister's Office decided to accommodate Eshel and approved an extension of his use of a work vehicle and cell phone until June 1. Rather than a one-time grant, the PMO also decided to pay his salary for an additional three months, as per his request. The PMO did not inform any state entity of the details of the arrangement and did not report that Eshel continued to work for the prime minister on a de facto basis.
"Natan Eshel ended his employment in the Prime Minister's Office on March 1, 2012. Eshel is receiving all the severance conditions as stipulated in his government service contract," the PMO said in response to this report.
Opposition Chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) commented on the report, saying that "Netanyahu mocks the rule of law by employing Eshel despite the unequivocal instructions from the Civil Service Commission.
"The prime minister, who is supposed to care for the safety of citizens in general and women in particular, is sending out a message that sexual harassment is an acceptable and forgivable act," she said.
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