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High Court freezes firing of Postal Company chair, orders government explain decision

The High Court of Justice has taken a dim view of the ministerial decision to dismiss the chairman of the Israel Postal Company chairman Mishael Vaknin, and froze the decision on Sunday morning with a warning to the ministers involved that it will be reversed if they do not adequately explain their position.

Justices Isaac Amit, Yosef Elron, and Alex Stein issued the interim injunction against Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi and Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem who made the decision to fire Vaknin. The justices stated in their decision that Vaknin was entitled to return to work if he wishes.

The decision came following a hearing in the High Court on Thursday on the matter, in which Amit called into question the validity of the decision, implying that the criteria needed to justify the dismissal of the head of a government company like the Israel Postal Company had not been met.

The justices on Sunday instructed Karhi and Amsalem to explain “why it should not be determined that firing the chairman of the Israel Post Company was illegitimate” and why the decision should not be nullified by the court.

Vaknin will not be formally dismissed until a final ruling on the matter is made.

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The interim injunction against the government ministers is a strong indication that the court does not view their position favorably.

Supreme Court justices Yosef Elron and Isaac Amit at a court hearing for petitions against the dismissal of Israel Postal Company chairman Mishael Vaknin, September 7, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A date for the hearing will be set shortly.

Vaknin’s legal team argued in court that the decision to fire him had been political owing to the fact that he was appointed by previous communications minister Yoaz Hendel during the last government, alleging that Karhi and Amsalem wanted to install close associates in senior positions in the company whom Vaknin would not have accepted.

“The two sins my client made were the fact that he was appointed by the previous communications minister Yoaz Hendel and the fact that he did not agree to operate the company according to cronyism in the manner that [previously] brought it to insolvency,” argued Giora Erdinast, an attorney for Vaknin.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi presents his reform to the media market to journalists, in Jerusalem, July 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Amit said almost outright during the hearing that he did not believe there was a basis for firing him.

“[This is] someone who was in the job for just one year. If you use this authority [to fire him] either something catastrophic has had to happen or someone destroyed the postal company. That’s not the case,” said the justice.

Karhi and Amsalem’s legal team argued that Vaknin had failed in his duties as head of the postal company and that as ministers, the staffing of the senior positions in the organization is at their discretion.