Monthly Report Headlines

A Victory of Historic Proportion – As a Result of Our Petition The Gas Deal Has Been Struck Down: As a result of our petition, the judges of the High Court of Justice struck down the natural gas deal which would have created a titanic monopoly for Yitzhak Tshuvah at the expense of all of us. The deal was an insult to the rule of law, to proper procedure, and to democracy. It was adopted by the Government in an improper and unprecedented manner, while bypassing the anti-trust regulator and the professional experts. The monopoly would have cost the citizens of Israel a great deal of money, would have endangered our national energy security, and, above all, would have dealt an insufferable blow to our democracy itself. Hats off to our courageous judges who pronounced their verdict in a clear and resonant voice: The interests of the citizens of Israel must also be taken into account—not just the interests of Yitzhak Tshuvah.

Update on The New Affair Regarding Aryeh Deri: In light of the new affair involving the police investigation of Aryeh Deri, the Movement made an urgent appeal to the Attorney General to ensure that this new affair will also be included in the Movement’s petition that is still before the High Court of Justice. Our petition was lodged following Der’i’s appointment as Minister of the Interior. As a convicted felon Der’i should have been ineligible for such an appointment. In our opinion, Der’i, along with all other convicted criminals, should not be able to serve as a government minister—certainly not in the very same ministry where he previously carried out his grave crimes of bribery and corruption. Our battle in the courts is accompanied by a broad public campaign in which over 75,000 Israelis have signed a petition opposing Der’i’s appointment.

We say NO to Clemency For Moshe Katsav: Following reports that Moshe Katsav might be granted clemency, the Movement appealed to the Minister of Justice and the President demanding that Katsav not be pardoned. At the same time we initiated a public campaign on this matter. The following facts are to be remembered: Moshe Katsav was convicted on two counts of rape, indecent assault, two counts of sexual harassment, indecent acts, and obstruction of justice. He never took responsibility for his actions, never admitted guilt, and did not participate in any rehabilitation program. He severely damaged the public’s faith in the office of the President as well as government institutions in general. He and his cronies conducted a public campaign of defamation against the women who made charges against him. For all these deeds, if he were an average citizen, it is highly doubtful that he would be granted clemency, and there is no justification for giving him a “celebrity discount”.

We Oppose Closing The File Against Ruth David: The Movement made an urgent appeal to the Attorney General demanding that he not close the investigation of Ruth David. According to the decision of the Attorney General, Ruth David, during her tenure as District Prosecutor, did indeed receive expensive gifts from attorney Ron-el Fischer. Fisher at the time represented clients under investigation in the district where David was the Chief Prosecutor. Nevertheless, she is not intended to be brought to trial. According to press reports, the investigation of David revealed that during and after her term of office she received from Fischer and from a builder who also faced criminal investigation, an expensive watch worth tens of thousands of shekels, a Louis Vitton bag, and other expensive gifts. The Attorney General himself determined that David received the gifts, for which he criticized her harshly, and yet, at the same time, he decided not to indict her, and closed the file against her. Because of this incomprehensible decision, the Movement lodged an urgent appeal with the Attorney General, demanding that the criminal investigation not be closed.

Dismantling the Monopoly in The Honey Market: The agricultural cartels and monopolies are being dismantled one after another. This month the Movement acted against the monopolistic situation in the honey market, a market controlled by the Honey Council which is tainted by a conflict of interest. As background, it must be noted that the honey market is extremely restrictive—the two largest producers control some 80% of the market and sell us honey at prices that can reach as much as 4 times those seen abroad. Several months ago the Movement presented a detailed position paper to the Kenesset Economics Committee. The paper contained operational proposals by which the restrictive honey market could be broken up. This month the Movement appealed to the Minister of Agriculture demanding that he terminate the arrangement whereby the Honey Council—a private entity in every respect—is the regulator of the honey market. Our demand was based on suspicions that the Honey Council is tainted by a conflict of interest due to its connections with the large honey producers. In place of the current arrangement we suggested that the Minister guarantee that a neutral, trustworthy, and transparent government body, not connected to the large producers, becomes the new regulator of the honey market. The Movement demands that the Minister exercise his authority to deal with the current conflicts of interest and grave irregularities plaguing the actions of the Honey Council, thereby strengthening the interests of the public in the honey market.

Supporting the Whistle-Blowers—The President Awards Certificates of Appreciation: The Movement has been acting for several years to encourage the adoption of a law for public integrity which would enable the President to award certificates of appreciation to whistle-blowers. However, such a law has not been enacted for over 20 years. The Movement initiated a meeting in the Kenesset on the topic, and as a result of the meeting as well as additional efforts by the Movement, the President has indeed begun awarding such certificates of appreciation. The awards were made to, among others, a whistle-blower supported by the Movement. Subsequent to this action, the Movement called on the Ministry of Justice to remove unnecessarily stringent obstacles which have no legal justification for consideration when granting the awards.

The Hearing Related to Our Appeal against The Dismissal of the Head of the Electricity Authority Who Was Dismissed Because of Her Opposition to the Gas Deal: This month there will be a hearing in the High Court of Justice regarding our petition against the dismissal of the Head of the Electricity Authority, Orit Farkash. We appealed in order to end the dismantling of the Authority and to cancel the dismissal of its head, who was dismissed because she expressed a position critical of the Government’s failed policy regarding the natural gas market. It is forbidden to accept this dismissal which deals a fatal blow to the independence of the Electricity Authority by rendering its head subject to political pressure. The dismissal was adopted in an undemocratic matter via the Arrangements Bill, and accepting it should not be allowed. It is incumbent upon us to protect regulators who are independent and professional. Sacking a regulator for carrying out her duties properly is likely to create a situation wherein regulators are required to toe the political line and not express their professional opinions.

Was the Appointment of the Legal Advisor for the Planning Authority Based on Inappropriate Considerations? The Movement approached the Attorney General and the Civil Service Commissioner arguing that the publication of a new tender was intended to remove the current Legal Advisor for the Planning Authority because of personal friction between her and the professional level. The Movement maintains that there were improper considerations behind the move, and that the tender process should therefore be suspended. Our fear is that the whole purpose of issuing the tender was to remove the current legal advisor because on several instances she refused to support illegal resolutions that various officials of the Planning Authority tried to pass.

We say NO to the Creation of a Monopoly at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Which Goes Against the Public Welfare: The Movement registered its opposition to a law proposed by the Finance Minister that would change the operational structure of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In our opinion the proposed law will create a monopoly in the Exchange, will not encourage competition, and will not lead to a lowering of the fees and commissions that are charged by the banks. If the law is passed, the practical result will be the awarding of a “gift” of half a billion shekels to members of the Exchange. (According to some estimates it could reach two billion shekels.)

Recent Activities of the Movement at the Municipal Level: A large portion of the Movement’s activities take place at the municipal level. Even though these battles rarely make headlines, it is actually on the local level that much of the nation’s corruption takes place, and there that much of the public’s money is spent. The following are a number of recent examples representing just a miniscule proportion of our extensive activities: In Ashkelon – The Movement appealed to the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner demanding the dismissal of Mayor Itamar Shimoni and his physical removal from City Hall in view of the investigation against him for grave sexual offenses, bribery, and corruption. In Zichron Ya’akov – The Movement called on the Prosecution to hasten its handling of the cases of a number of whistle-blowers in the municipality. We refer to several employees of the local council who exposed incidents of suspected corruption and received protective orders from the State Comptroller. The exposed incidents are still under police investigation, which, according to press reports, are being dragged out, with no progress so far for two years.