April 2019

April 2019 Activity Summary Report

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Demanding from the Prime Minister: No to the French Law! No to the Immunity from Prosecution Law!

We called the PM to announce publicly – in front of the whole nation – that regardless the nature of the future government, during his next term of office he will refrain from promoting the amendment to the Immunity from Prosecution Law or the implementation of the French Law. We call the PM to refrain from using the Coalition or the Knesset for legislating personal laws that will prevent the ability to prosecute him if the Attorney General of Israel decides to file indictments in his case. The PM should not abuse the power he was granted by the public; in case his prosecution is decided, he should prove his innocence in a hearing and in court. Over the last weeks certain public officials stated the opinion that laws should be advanced in order to grant the PM immunity from persecution during his term of office. It is about laws such as the amendment to the Immunity from Prosecution Law (an amendment that will grant automatic immunity that to be removed a special request should be submitted by the Attorney General) or the French Law (that prevents starting criminal proceedings, also against an acting PM and perhaps even retroactively regarding investigations already exist). Such laws will severely harm the Rule of Law principle, the Public’s trust in its elected officials and the systems of law enforcement and judiciary. The PM has got to prevent such damage to the values of democracy and to the democratic system of government by whose rules he was elected. It is time that you, the Prime Minister of Israel, declare in public to the nation and to your partners that you will not take part in personal legislation.

Demanding to cancel Nathan Eshel’s participation in the coalition negotiation team

According to publications, PM Netanyahu appointed Nathan Eshel – formerly head of staff in the PM’s office – to the team that administers his (the PM’s) and the Likud‘s coalition negotiations for the 35th government. It is necessary to mention that some years ago Eshel signed a plea bargain in the significant indictment against him. Within this plea bargain Eshel admitted offending the civil service disciplines and behaving in contradiction with the norms expected of a civil servant. It is about treating his subordinate worker in a manner that is neither appropriate nor acceptable in civil service working contexts: Eshel attacked her privacy while photographing her in an unacceptable way at various occasions. Simultaneously, Eshel pledged to resign from the civil service and never to return there. Even though directing the coalition negotiation is not considered a civil service role, it is definitely a public one which significantly deserves the Public’s trust. Though the Attorney General argued that there was no legal difficulty regarding this nomination, when it comes to victims of sexual abuse there is absolutely a wrong moral message in nominating a person who admitted such offenses. We wrote to the PM, the Attorney General and the Civil Service Commissioner in demand to cancel Eshel’s nomination. Already in the 20th Knesset elections Netanyahu wished to appoint Eshel to the coalition negotiation staff, but due to public protest and the refusal of other party leaders to participate in a negotiation side by side with Eshel, the PM gave up the idea. Such a role – a public role of massive influence on the future of Israel and its citizens – deserves super-high threshold conditions in order to secure the Public’s trust in the government.

A public struggle: Say NO to anti-democratic legislation

Following the elections, the coalition negotiations started alongside ideas of anti-democratic legislation – the Passage of Overcoming, the so-called French Law, the Immunity from Prosecution Law,  another law that would undermine the Gatekeepers and turn their roles into the politicians’ “positions of trust”, and more such ideas. Not only that this legislation might turn the Knesset into a shelter for suspects and criminals, but it also severely harms some of the very fundamental concepts of democracy such as equality before the law, independence of the courts, the Rule of Law and more. Some of these suggestions are personal in nature: it seems they were tailored specifically to suit the PM’s measures and to serve him, and they are also retroactive. We have launched a vast public struggle to which, within just a few days, thousands Israelis joined and signed the demand from the Knesset members to refrain from supporting this legislation. In addition we perform daily protests that express our determination to continue our struggle until these hazardous initiatives disappear.

Addressing the Attorney General in demand to open a criminal investigation against Effi Naveh and Ayelet Shaked regarding the Registered party members affair

Galei Tzahal radio network published a report – later on also TheMarker had a relevant article – describing an alleged deal between Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Effi Naveh, former chairman of Israel Bar Association (and other close associates). The deal was in the manner of “give and take”: Naveh and the CEO of a law firm close to Naveh would register hundreds of new employees of this Firm as party members of Habayit Hayehudi party (Shaked’s former party) and in return Shaked would act for changing the advertising regulations imposed on lawyers in such a way, that the aforementioned law firm will benefit from it. Since this story raises a serious concern of committing criminal offenses, we demanded from the Attorney General, the State Prosecutor and the deputy Police Inspector General to open an investigation right away. According to the article, Naveh collaborated with the above mentioned CEO in registering more than 100 employees of the Firm in favor of Habayit Hayehudi. The registering procedure included applying pressures to the employees and enforcing the registration on them and also offering the Firm’s financing for those who refused to spend their own money on the registration. All of these actions were confirmed by Shaked’s former assistant and throughout accurate instructions concerning the filling out of the registration form so that all of the 100 employees will be registered as party members who are loyal to Minister Shaked. The Firm’s response as appeared in the article indicated that Shaked had been aware of the mass registration.

No to cancelling the Transparency Committee

Following the decision to cancel the Knesset’s Transparency Committee we contacted Knesset chairman Yuli Edelshtein and the Attorney General, explaining to them that this wrong decision extremely damages the Public Interest. During the 20th Knesset term, the Transparency Committee’s activity contributed a lot for creating transparency and releasing government information to the public. The Committee meetings and the information revealed there were communicated to the public by written protocols and by videotapes downloaded to the Knesset site. The Committee’s uncovering of faults in different authorities’ activities led to the State Comptroller’s inspection and, for the first time, to open discussions of subjects that were not accessible to the public until then. The Committee enhanced significantly the Public’s Right to Know, public criticism, the Public Trust, and the transparency – that has always been and will always be the best way to prevent corruption. The decision to cancel such an important committee is rather peculiar. One can’t avoid suspecting that whoever tries to undermine transparency has got something to conceal.

With the opening of the coalition negotiation, we have presented demands to the parties’ leaders

As the parties’ coalition negotiations are starting, we have gathered several significant issues that are on the public agenda – or, in our opinion, should be there – into a detailed position paper that we have sent to all of the parties’ leaders. Following are some of these issues:

  • Protecting the gatekeepers’ independence and the independence of the judicial system: their independent, impartial and professional functioning is highly important for a democratic state’s proper conduct and should not be subordinated to political considerations.
  • Amending the elections campaign laws in order to fit them into the 21st
  • Distribution of the Government’s ministries and decentralization of power: It is impossible that the PM holds so many ministries – as was the case in the outgoing government. This is a situation that enables him enormous power and also undermines the functioning of these ministries, as they devoid of full-time ministers.
  • The Recruitment Law: It is time for this law to be, once and for all, amended in such a way that it will ensure equality for all of Israel’s citizens.
  • Opposing personal and retroactive legislations that undermine the very basic principles of democracy.