December 2020

December 2020 Activity Summary Report

Taking from the poor and giving to cronies? We petitioned the High Court of Justice against Minister Deri’s plan

Disguised as a plan for “nutritional security”, Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri transferred NIS 700 million of public money to a discriminating plan that had been custom tailored for a certain sector. Instead of granting this money to truly needy populations, the plan is actually a means of transmitting monies to people who are close to Deri and whom the latter wishes to please. As if discrimination was not enough, the plan comprises also sever invasion of privacy due to probable intention to have the Ministry of Interior submit personal details to Shufer Sal Company. In addition, this might be a case of prohibited election campaign once public money is being spent here indirectly for the sake of Shas Party’s election campaign (indeed the plan had been presented in Shas’s ads). When we related promptly to this forbidden campaign, it was removed. As for the plan itself, we petitioned the High Court of Justice.

Jobs for cronies instead of a professional directors team? Following our petition, also the Companies Authority announced the rejection of Minister Amsalem’s plan

An important achievement for the Public Interest: the Government Companies Authority rejected Minister Amsalem’s concept of advancing his agenda and cancelling the Directors Team, an act that might lead to appointing cronies, persons of political parties’ contexts, etc. After many weeks of a legal battle against Minister Amsalem’s decision to cancel the Directors Team in spite of the legal opinion, we received the delighting news of the Government Companies Authority’s decision to reject Amsalem’s illegal interfering with its work, and to act according to the Attorney General’s opinion. The Directors Team is a pool of candidates who, by passing the Government Companies Authority’s tenders, were found suitable for the roles of directors in government companies. Appointing eligible candidates saved the Public Service from nepotism and from appointing political cronies of no suitable qualifications, and produced a meaningful improvement in the Government Companies’ profitability. Cancelling such an important institution should not be allowed, all the more so for not letting cronies be appointed.  

We petitioned the High Court: While the parties spent NIS 700 million of the public money, they once and again confirm for themselves postponing of submitting their financial reports

A private company, or a public one, that owes information concerning its conduct to its investors and shareholders, must submit financial reports quarterly. If so then why, when it is about NIS 700 million of public money, the parties take the liberty of bending regulations by not submitting the reports? Recently, the Finance Committee decided to postpone, for the third time now, the parties’ submitting to the State Comptroller the reports of their financial conduct over the last 3 election campaigns. We petitioned against this decision that had been made against the law and the public interest, but in accordance with the personal interests of the Committee’s members. In addition, according to the Freedom of Information law, we requested the Knessettodisclose all of the parties’ loans from the Public Coffers and debts to it. We demanded from all the parties to return these debts. Some parties started doing so; Kulanu Party led by Mosheh Kakhlon has already paid all of its debts.

We petitioned the High Court: What is the reason for the Government’s ignoring the law that was designated to streamline the water economy and to reduce water prices for the citizens?

Why is there is no compliance with the law that aims at reducing the costs of water and at streamlining the water economy? We petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Minister of Water Resources, the Water Authority and the Water Corporations. Legislated a long time ago, this law determines that the number of regional water corporations will be reduced due to the present reality of surplus corporations that are needless in the cases of small and adjacent areas. Merging corporations and reducing their number will result in significant cost savings and hence in reduction of water prices for the consumers. However, in spite of determining the issue by law it seems that nothing has been done in order to advance it. This is nothing but a direct hit at the Public’s purse and also disregard for the law. We have petitioned in order to put an end to this conduct.

Some of the Movement’s activities at the municipal level

An inspection report prepared for Tamar Regional Council revealed many faults of the Council’s administration. Among others are faults in the procedure of appointing an external legal counsel: problems in the tender, using services of an office that in the past represented the former Head of Council in a criminal procedure, and more. The report comprises concrete indications such as charging those who were involved personally for their deeds.

When contacting the Head of Council in order to realize in what ways the report’s recommendations have been applied, we found out that his response was mainly shunning the report. Therefore we demanded from the council to relate to the report’s criticisms and recommendations and to amend all of the faults. ◆ Recently we received information relating to Gderot Regional Council‘s failure to maintain the values of transparency. For example, council meetings were held in closed doors, preventing this way the participation of residents. Moreover, the Council failed to meet the requirement of publishing recordings of its meetings and of public announcements. We demanded from the Council to act due to the rules of transparency. ◆ Sever faults were revealed in a Ministry of Welfare and Rashi Foundation shared project of supporting economically and emotionally distressed families in Shlomi: concealing money, using fictitious invoices, employing caregivers untrained for providing emotional therapy to distressed people, and more. Following these finds, the Ministry of Welfare established an investigation committee that together with Lahav 433 Unit’s investigators produced a report that led to closing the project. Since the issue has been still under investigation, we demanded from the Police to receive the investigation’s report in order to verify proper handling of the affairs. It is important to note that stopping the project was realized only after our request for Freedom of Information revealed the many faults.◆ Following publications in the social media we submitted to Herzliya Municipality a Freedom of Information request regarding children books about Corona virus that were distributed to the residents. Given for free and financed out of the Municipality budget, these books seem to praise the Mayor, Mosheh Fadlon. This raises the suspicion of misusing public money and assets for prohibited election campaign. ◆ We contacted Kfar YonaMunicipality regarding a shelter given for free to Chabad organization that operates there a synagogue. It was claimed that this allocation was in violation of the law. ◆ Following a published debriefing regarding a local Karmiel newspaper editor’s involvement in the campaign of Mosheh Koninskifor the city’s mayoralty, we contacted the Police in order to start a checking procedure due to the suspicion of election bribery.

More on the Movement’s desk for this month

We petitioned against the Ministry of Finance in demand to expose all information regarding the economic plans confirmed during the Corona period. It must be ensured that decisions of spending billions of the Public Money had been made out of proper considerations. ◆ We congratulate the recently appointed Police Inspector General: presently, the most important mission of the Police is restoring the Public’s confidence in it. ◆ We warned the minister and the CEO in the ministry that is in charge of Yad Vashem about suspicion of improper administration: “Tenures of 76 out of 78 board members have been expired, the office of a deputy chairman has been vacant since 1999 in spite of the legal demand” ◆ We contacted Likud party: “If Knesset Member Orly Levi Abekasis had been promised in advance a reserved place in the party – it is against the law”. ◆ We submitted a Freedom of Information request regarding private factors receiving office rooms in the Knessetbuilding: “They use their special status for enhancing irrelevant interests”. ◆ We demanded from Minister of Religious Services Ya’akov Avitan to cancel dozens of appointments to positions in religious councils. Avitan carried out these appointments abruptly, just several hours prior to the 23rd Knesset’sdissolution. These appointments were never submitted to an advisory committee and to the Ministry’s legal bureau as the law orders; they do not comprise proper representation of women; the councils’ composition does not correspond to the factional segmentation in the local authorities; part of the candidates had been criminally convicted and others are facing criminal procedures currently. ◆ We held demonstrations: in front of Prime Minister of the transitional government Netanyahu’s house in Keysaria and in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv (before the Corona closure). We also participated in a march from the Negevto the PM’s residence in Jerusalem. The demonstrations call for fighting corruption, investigating the Submarines Affair, securing the public interests and not political considerations, and preventing the possibility of a person accused of bribery serving as prime minister. ◆ We petitioned in demand for information about the expenses of the PM’s official residence. This demand follows the PM office’s blatant and systematic disregard for the Freedom of Information law by refraining from submitting information as should be done according to the law. ◆ In connection to our petition regarding the Government’s refraining from submitting 2021 budget to the Knesset, the Court reprimanded the Government sharply for disparaging the law and the Court. The latter ordered the State to respond shortly. ◆ According to the Freedom of Information law, we petitioned due to fear of hundreds of millions deviation the in the PM’s airplane budget. ◆ We petitioned according to the Freedom of Information law in order to receive from the PM’s office information of his conversations with Israel Hayom‘s editor. ◆ We contacted the Ministry of Communications due to suspicion of conflict of interests regarding the former Ministry’s CEO until just a few months ago who has recently been appointed director in Migdaley Tikshoret Company.