April 2018

April 2018 Activity Summary Report

For further information:  www.mqg.org.il

A public struggle

The Movement has initiated a vast public struggle against the intention to confirm the “Passage of Overcoming” that would weaken the Court and contravene the democratic checks and balances between the authorities. According to the Movement’s view, this bill will not strengthen the Knesset’s status: it is the government that harms this status by acting as a legislator through the unrelenting coalition discipline and the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The latter is the very committee which was dubbed by some “the real legislating authority”, the committee that has turned the Knesset into a rubber stamp of the government.

Within the frame of checks and balances, the Court is the last line of defending the Knesset as the legislating authority in front of the government’s aggressiveness. Many times, the Court is also the last protector of citizens, human rights, proper administration, and the Rule of Law. Balances between authorities are delicate; any change in them must be preceded by thoughtful and profound discussions and not out of yielding to temporary political needs. Any such change should be planned with utmost seriousness and great care while checking the whole picture of balances among the State’s authorities.

The Movement’s members demonstrated while the Ministerial Committee had been discussing the law. In addition, thousands of citizens signed the Movement’s struggle petition.

Apropos inviting Olmert, the Movement to the Supreme Court’s President: Prevent judges’ participation in Israel Bar Association conference

About a month ago it came out that former PM Ehud Olmert had been invited to the Israel Bar Association conference. In spite of severe criticism by various factors, the invitation was not cancelled and the conference date is approaching. Nine months ago, Olmert was set free from prison where he was sent to after being convicted of grave offenses, among which were receiving bribes, cheating, and breach of faith. These offenses had been performed by him during his various public positions in government authorities, when he abused his public status for his own personal benefit at the expense of promoting the public interests for which end he had been elected. Throughout the time of his interrogations and trial, and in an interview after his release, Olmert and his delegates have been using tactics utterly designed to defame the Justice and Law enforcement system and consequently present Olmert as “victim” of a persecution plot aimed at his dismissal from prime ministry. At the time of this conduct Olmert was convicted of the obstruction of justice, a severe offense, as he was striving to contaminate the fair legal procedure.

Inviting a criminal convicted of such offenses to participate in a conference of the Israel Bar Association, whose members are committed to the Rule of Law, is inappropriate by the Movement’s standards. Our standpoint is even firmer in light of Olmert’s outrageous words during his trial and after it, which is why the Movement demands the prevention of the judges’ participation in the conference so long as Olmert’s invitation was valid, in order to deny legitimating his acts and words.

Should a person convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude – with 7 years not yet over since then – run for Mayor? The Movement demands the Ministry of Interior’s intervention

The movement demanded the Ministry of Interior’s objection to Binyamin Regev’s participation in the campaign for the upcoming elections for Lod’s Mayoralty. Regev had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude and it has been less than 7 years since his imprisonment’s termination.

We have petitioned: Why conceal the report of errors in the Ministry of Religious Services unit for supervising the kosher regulations?

The State Comptroller’s report located severe errors in the Ministry of Religious Services unit for supervising kosher regulations. Checking this unit, the Comptroller found out that its conduct had been implemented as not according to the rules of proper administration. The Comptroller further noted, that this conduct added to the public’s economical burden. The report’s findings related, inter alia, to initiating coordination between different offices and to cases of forbidden nepotism between officials and supervisors in about 20(!) religious councils. This is just part of the severe cases the Comptroller has located, and so the unavoidable questions should be asked: How does the Ministry of Religious Services act to rectify these errors? Where could the report by the relevantly appointed staff be found? Why wasn’t it published? Where are relevant protocols and documented decisions?

Several months ago, the Movement asked, officially and according to the Law of Freedom of Information, to get the Ministry of Religious Services’ answers to these questions, but to no avail. Hence the Movement petitioned the Court demanding to receive – as determined by the Law of Freedom of Information – the above-mentioned information.

Do KMs and other superiors use flashing lights (“Kojak”) without reason? We have petitioned against the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety in order to have the information publicized

Media items provided reasons to suspect that many officials who have no relevance to urgent security affairs – among them ministers, KMs, government CEOs, heads of local councils – are granted, exceptionally and unexplainably, an approval of using the police identifying flashing (and alarming) lights in their cars. The media provided examples of abusing these devices, intentionally designated for life-threatening situations: Deputy Health Minister Litzman while arriving at Rabi Schteinman’s funeral; former coalition chairman David Bitan while arriving at one of his interrogations in a police station. Wishing to examine the procedure of granting permissions to use this device, the Movement had asked – already in December 2017 – to receive relevant information from the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety. Due to the Ministry’s disregard, the Movement petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to receive the details, including an updated list of all who are allowed to use this device in their cars, a list of criteria for gaining this permission and the accurate number of people who currently hold such permissions.

Before the next Haircut: Inspecting in real time the huge loan requested by Delek for Leviathan gas field

In order to prevent another case in which all of us, the Public, cover the debt settlements (Haircuts) of tycoons (and with the background of the Fishman Committee discussing this very issue), the Movement demanded from the Commissioner of the Capital Market and from the Supervisor of Banks to inspect, in real time and not in retrospect, the huge loan ($ 1.75 billion) requested by Delek Group from financial factors – among them Israeli factors – for developing Leviathan gas field. It is unavoidable to recall the intolerable ease by which Israeli tycoons are granted loans without any guarantee for their ever paying back the public money they received. Relating to this specific loan request, already several publications have turned on a few red lights: rather obscure financial agreements with Jordan’s electric company; an unknown Egyptian company whose nature Delek is reluctant to discuss; partial information of the gas quantities which the companies are committed to purchase; pressure in neighboring countries against trading with Israel; and more. All of these issues bring about the suspicion of Delek’s inability to return the required loan and the burden of covering it will once again be the public’s.

The Movement calls for dismissal of “The SMSs Judge”

In no way should the law enforcement system contain those who contempt it. Nearly two months have passed since the exposure of the shameful correspondence between a Magistrate Court judge – Ronit Poznanski Katz – and the legal counsel of Israel Securities Athority’s investigation department – attorney Eran Shaham Shavit, who investigated in Case 4000 (the Bezek-Alovitz affair). To recall, before the discussion of extending Bezek’s owners, CEO, and COO detention, the judge and the prosecution representative coordinated the future scenario at the Court (by camaraderie-like, unprofessional, improper Whatsapp correspondence). Once the affair was revealed, the Movement submitted to the Attorney General a request to commence an intensive investigation in order to exhaust the justice with the affair’s personae. Recently, Poznanski Katz was convicted of improper conduct and of breaching the ethical terms to which judges are committed. Improper conduct is an understatement: the conduct as it was, with a case seemingly of such deep corruption in the background, raises severe questions regarding the Law Enforcement System’s motivations for implementing its duties of guarding Justice. For this heavy harm, and in order to regain just a little of the public’s faith in the judiciary and in the law enforcement system, the Movement calls decision makers to initiate effective means of deterrence so that likewise phenomena will be prevented. The judge must be dismissed – the sooner the better.

Anti- corruption public protest

Recently the Movement held demonstrations and joined other protest events – all of them against corruption. Among others, the Movement organized several demonstrations in Tel Aviv Rabin Square and joined such events all over the country – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Afula, Haifa, Rehovot, Ness Tziona, Petach tiqva, Kfar Saba, Modiin, Holon, and more. This month, the most prominent protestations were the ones in Jerusalem which the Movement joined and a demonstration the Movement initiated during the Ministerial Committee on Legislation meeting regarding the Passage of Overcoming. In the midst of the current wave of corruption, investigations are being opened and corruption affairs are exploding in various government authorities, both Locally and Nationally. These affairs involve junior officials as well as most senior ones; there are affairs that have no references in the media and others that involve top figures of the Government. The Movement calls all to demonstrate in protest against corruption and to voice this protest wherever it should be heard.

More of this month’s activities

After the Movement’s contacting of the PM and the Attorney General about the State Archives’ new limiting regulations that might nullify their accessibility to the public, the PM’s office notified the Movement that its proposals are on the way to be applied, together with relevant changes in legislation, so that the public will once again enjoy the accessibility of the Archives. The Movement calls the Attorney General to urgently examine the involvement of Netanyahu and his close associates in deciding whether to extend Police Inspector General Alsheich’s office term, and to act accordingly for fear that the Rule of Law might be subordinated to interests of the persons who have been interrogated by the police. The Movement calls Effi Naveh, chairman of the Israel Bar Association, to apologize for his loathsome words concerning Dorit Salinger, the Commissioner of the Capital Market. The Movement participated in a State Control Committee discussion concerning the phenomenon of “Machers” – those representatives who take advantage of their connections with different State services for their clients’ interests (the issue had been raised in a State Comptroller’s report already 10 years ago). In this significant discussion the Movement specified errors like: abusing contacts of former authorities’ employees who had not yet ended their cooling-off periods, working “in black” (without a pay slip), and working as ministers’ “external consultants”. The Movement congratulates KMs Yachimovich and Folkman for initiating the issue’s discussion and for the relevant bill that intends to enhance transparency and documentation. The Movement opposed the intention to invite (Rabbi) Berland, a convicted sex offender, to take part on the stage of honor in a State-financed ceremony for Lag Baomer holiday. The Movement demanded from all of the political parties that perform primary elections to find out if within their lines there are “political machines” who pay others for registering as party members. The Movement demands to know: where are the budgets for holocaust survivors’ homes within the psychiatric hospitals? A year ago, PM Netanyahu and Finance Committee chairman Gafni promised to allocate budgets of millions to these homes for renovations, nursing professionals, para-medical workers, psychologists, and physiotherapy sessions. According to publications, these budgets, that were designated to allow the survivors more dignity and comfort toward the end of their lives, have not yet been transferred.