The Civil Service
As of late 1988, government employees were recruited through a merit system, with appointment, promotion, transfer, termination, training, discipline, and conditions of employment regulated by law. They were prohibited, especially in the senior grades, from engaging in partisan politics by the Civil Service (Restriction of Party Activities and Fund-Raising) Law of 1959. As of 1988, there were approximately 100,000 government employees, excluding the Israel Police, teachers (who were technically municipal employees), civilian workers in the defense establishment, and employees of the State Employment Service and the autonomous Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The civil service was headed by a commissioner appointed by the cabinet and directly responsible to the minister of finance. The commissioner, who like other senior government officials carried the rank of director general, had broad responsibility for the examination, recruitment, appointment, training, and discipline of civil service personnel. In practice, however, except in the senior grades, these matters were left to the discretion of the various ministries. The commissioner was also chairman of the Civil Service Board, consisting of three directors general representing government ministries and three members representing the public. The purpose of the board was to administer the civil service pension system. In addition, the office of the commissioner directed the operation of the Central School of Administration in Jerusalem and furnished administrative services to the Civil Service Disciplinary Court. Civil servants were automatically members of the Civil Servants' Union--a practice that has been in effect since 1949 when the union became part of the General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel (HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael, known as Histadrut--literally, organization). Any basic changes in the conditions of government employment must have the concurrence of the union. The mandatory retirement age for civil service workers was sixty-five, and pensions ranged from 20 to 70 percent of terminal salary, depending on length of service.
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