Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel (L) and Hadas Parush /Flash90
MK Bezalel Smotrich and Natan Eshel

Natan Eshel, a close associate of the wife of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Netanyahu family’s representative in talks with the various parties, said about two weeks ago to MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Rightwing Union that the next justice minister would hold the key to the fate of the prime minister and his family in his hand and so “there’s no way you’ll get that key, forget it,” according to a report by Kan News.

According to the report, the conversation between Smotrich and Eshel took place in the Prime Minister’s Office, hours before the dissolution of the 21st Knesset, and in the presence of several participants.

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Eshel’s intent was to convey to Smotrich that the appointment was not a political but a personal matter, and therefore there is no chance that his request to receive the justice portfolio would be granted.

Natan Eshel stated in response to the report that “the subject of the justice portfolio has never been a topic of conversation. We said it would not be handed over to any party [other than Likud] and so it will be. The inventions of stories may be good for those who do not get what they want, but they have no relation to the truth.”

MK Smotrich declined to comment on the report.

In April 2009, when Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the post of prime minister, Natan Eshel, who was Sara Netanyahu’s confidant, was appointed head of the Prime Minister’s office. In December 2010, his role was changed to chief of staff for the Prime Minister. In January 2012 it became known that three senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, two of whom are today MKs in the Blue & White party, contacted the Attorney General and gave him information about Nathan Eshel’s sexual harassment of a female employee. Eshel admitted that he had photographed the complainant using “unacceptable photography” and resigned from the civil service.

But in January 2013, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich published an e-mail sent to her in error, in which Eshel was asking the legal councilor for the Prime Minister’s office to find out whether he was allowed to head the negotiating team for the establishment of the next government.

In April 2019, Eshel was serving as an official member of the Likud coalition negotiations team.

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