December 2021

December 2021 Activity Summary Report

Thanks to the Movement’s fierce struggle, the public committee for considering the wages of the Knesset Members is being established

Three years after the Knesset’s refraining (against the law) from appointing it, the establishment of the public committee for considering the KMs’ wages and terms of employment is being submitted to the Knesset’s confirmation and the committee will be appointed. In our opinion, the committee’s first mission should be the necessity of cancelling the linking of these wages to the average wage in the economy, a necessity already recommended in the past by the former committee. The gross wage of a Knesset member is about NIS 45,000 per month – almost five times the average wage in the economy – and the way the average wage increases each and every year, so automatically do the KMs’ wages. Establishing the committee and so providing the possibility to carry out an independent examination of the wage conditions are the first step toward ending these wage celebrations and increasing the transparency regarding the KMs’ activities.

Following our petition, the State announced an investigation into the Netanyahu’s Document Shredding Affair

We received an answer to our petition of last August in which we demanded to investigate the affair of documents shredding in the Prime Minister’s office a short time prior to Netanyahu’s leaving it and to the change of government. The State announced that a professional investigation of the issue has been underway.

Thanks to our pressure: An unexpected obstacle faces Akirov in his attempt to take over the Public’s pensions!

Albert Akirov, owner of Alrov Real Estate Company, intended to gain control of Clal Insurance, a company that manages about NIS 220 billion of the Public’s pension money. This move undermines the reduction of centralization in the economy and raises fear of regressing to the times of “haircuts” at the expense of the Public’s money. Thanks to the pressure we applied, it became known that Israel Securities Authority has also been opposing the move.

We turned to the Attorney General: Have Corona data been hidden by the Ministry of Education according to Minister of Education Yif’at Shasha Biton’s instructions? We demand to expose the data!

 A rather bothering news item was recently published: Ministry of Education officials claimed that ordered by Minister Shasha Biton, people in the Ministry allegedly hid data about morbidity and Covid outbreaks in schools in order to prevent their closure. According to these publications, the data had been hidden from the Prime Minister and from the Ministry of Health, among others. We demanded from the Attorney General to initiate a meaningful examination of these claims and also to publish all of the data! Our children’s health is nothing to play with, in particular when many countries including Israel experience an increase in children’s hospitalization due to Covid.

We petitioned the Court: No cooling period before transitioning from the State Comptroller Office to the Prime Minister’s?

A recent publication informed that attorney Eden Bizman, who until recently served as Deputy Director General of the State Comptroller Office, was appointed Deputy Director General of the PM Office without any cooling period. Additional information revealed that Bizman was granted a generous salary increase of NIS tens of thousands per month. Using the Freedom of Information right, we asked from the Comptroller to let us have the opinion that allowed cancelling Bizman’s cooling period and to have his paychecks too. Due to the State Comptroller Office’s refusal to release these data we petitioned the Court.

An achievement in the Movement’s struggle to reduce the cost of living: The Southport receives an official operating permit

The entire Israeli economy depends on what happens in the ports since 99% of incoming goods pass through just three ports! For years now we have been struggling stubbornly to increase competition in this important sector and now we’ve received news that at last one more port will be granted an operating permit.

An achievement for Proper Administration: Following our interference, the Jerusalem Religious Council’s chairman will end his term

We requested Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana to order the termination of this chairman’s employment due to severe criticism of his conduct by the Jerusalem Municipality Comptroller and by the State Comptroller. The Ministry of Religious Services Committee also recommended the very same (a recommendation ignored by former Minister of Religious Services Ya’akov Avitan). Now, at last, it does happen.

A significant achievement: Establishing a new Police faction – the faction for investigating public corruption

Minister of Internal Security Omer Bar Lev invited us to join a meeting in honor of the Day for the Fight against Corruption. On this occasion he presented the new faction’s establishing – a blessed precedent-setting move that hopefully will bring about a comprehensive and serious handling of many more corruption affairs and more massive protection of whistleblowers. We continue struggling for whistleblowers on the institutional level as well as by accompanying them – each through their personal fight.

Is the Government encouraging opportunism and political defection? Our petition had been discussed

This month, the Supreme Court held a discussion of our petition against the personal, anti-democratic amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset. This amendment was passed by the present government and had been designated for splitting the Likud party. It enables the splitting of 4 Knesset Members from their party without being submitted to any legal sanction. This way the amendment subordinates the rules of the democratic game to individual political whims in order to encourage the inappropriate phenomenon of defection (“Kalanterism“). The amendment comprises a lot of problems: it is actually an improper personal legislation – it seems rather clearly that the amendment was tailored according to the political needs of the present coalition, namely to attract – through political bribe – defectors out from the Likud party in this 24th Knesset and into the Government; the amendment essentially changes the Israeli political map and the power balance between the partiesin that it weakensthe big parties and in fact the voting power of the citizens who voted for these parties; it harms the democratic procedure and the principal of equality and relativity of the election scores in that it enables Knesset Members eager to promote their personal interests to change the distribution of votes between the parties contrary to the voters’ decisions; the amendment’s validity is retrospective, meaning it will apply already to the present Knesset; it had been legislated in an improper accelerated procedure. The Knesset: Basic Law’s amendment was designated to split the Likud party and to encourage political maneuvers. This is a stinking political trick.

We contacted the Ministry of the Interior, the State Comptroller and the Police: The conflict of interest suspicion against the Mayor of Afula must be investigated

Kan 11 TV channel recently broadcasted Oren Aharoni’s article that revealed a rather bothering reality of what was allegedly happening in Afula Municipality. According to the article, Mayor Avi Elkabetz is the owner and chairman of “Lagoor Basee” real estate company that builds projects in Afula, including in neighborhoods in which the municipality invests resources for development, an action that may cause an increase in the relevant real estates’ value. The Local Authorities Law forbids a person who serves as head of such an authority to hold any other job besides a non-profitable voluntary one. This prohibition gains even stronger meaning in light of the case presented in this Kan 11 article since the Company, allegedly the Mayor’s, has been active within the very same local authority’s boundaries. Such activity might be regarded as a blatant violation of the law and also seems to be in an allegedly distinct conflict of interest. In addition, it was claimed in the article that during the city council meetings members of the opposition have been silenced and also removed from the meetings, and that the whole of the severe happenings in the Municipality as were revealed in the article have been ignored by relevant supervising factors in the Ministry of the Interior. Following the publication we requested the Ministry of the Interior to handle the issue using supervision and enforcement means. We contacted the State Comptroller and also asked 433 Lahav Unit Commander to consider initiating a criminal investigation.  

An achievement for the Movement: Thanks to our interference, members of the economic cabinet established by the Minister of Finance signed conflict of interest arrangements

On his own initiative, in August Minister of Finance Lieberman constructed an “economic cabinet”. Among others, some of the persons chosen to participate in the group had potential interests, e.g. former CEOs of banks and managers of investment houses. No one of the economic cabinet members ever signed a conflict of interest agreement even though some of them might allegedly have distinct business interests in the decisions made by this forum. Once and again we warned against establishing the cabinet in a move that was against the rules of proper administration and with the potential of severe conflict of interest. Following our warning letter to the relevant factors, the Ministry of Justice decided to stop Lieberman’s economic cabinet’s activity until arranging the consulting staff’s issues of conflict of interest. Recently, we have received an official notice of the cabinet’s members signing conflict of interest and confidentiality arrangements. In addition, the cabinet’s work will be carried out within the Ministry of Finance activity so as to prevent unnecessary waste of money at the expense of tax-paying citizens.

We fought Deri’s preposterous, relieving plea bargain that does not include disgrace

Under the arrangement made with him, Knesset Member Aryeh Deri admitted tax offenses of the lower level and resigned from the Knesset until this term’s end. However, he was not disgraced. Opposing this rather easing arrangement from the start, we initiated an extensive public struggle joined by many citizens. Unfortunately our petition to the Supreme Court against the arrangement was not accepted. We continue the struggle at the public context – it is inconceivable that elected officials will gain easy and soft plea bargains and evade disgrace.

More from the Movement’s desk for December

Throughout the month we had been preoccupied with an intensive public struggle in demand of establishing an investigative committee for the Submarines Affair. We had contacted the Government many times regarding this issue. We had been joined by many citizens who emailed the Government’s members respectively. * We demanded from the Attorney General, The State Attorney and the Police to open a criminal investigation against Prof. Ardon Rubinstein in suspicion of fraud and deception following his appearance in the Knesset’s meeting on the issue of taxing sweetened beverages. Though initially he tried denying it, Rubinstein allegedly admitted that “the Central Bottling Company” (the one that produces and distributes Coca Cola in Israel) financed his written opinion about taxing diet beverages and financed as well his appearance before the committee. * Israel Hayom people will apologize and pay! The Court decided to impose the legal expenses on the newspaper in addition to its publishing a statement of apology to the Movement’s Chairman: In September 2018 we filed a lawsuit against Israel Hayom newspaper and its journalists Akiva Bigman and Boaz Bismout following Bigman’s series of publications. In one of them he claimed that in a Movement’s demonstration against corruption, the Movement’s Chairman Eliad Shraga named Netanyahu “traitor”. Bigman used unfounded accusations and did not even bother to ask for our response prior to publishing his stuff. The court obliged Israel Hayom to publish an apology and an explanation and also to reimburse the Movement for legal expenses in the amount of NIS 12,000. * During the month we have been operating a vast public campaign for establishing the Knesset’s Ethics Committee. It is unreasonable that the Opposition keeps blocking the establishment of this significant committee. * Where are the gifts given to Netanyahu? Four weeks ago it was published that Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu allegedly did not return to the State 42 gifts given to him throughout his Prime Ministry service. As it seemed that in spite of the time passed no gift had been returned, we once again demanded answers from the relevant factors.