February 2019

February 2019 Activity Summary Report

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What’s going on with Arieh Deri’s and Haim Katz’s investigations? We have petitioned the High Court of Justice

Deri has been suspected of money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, robbery by an authorized person, false registration and tax offenses. In spite of these suspicions the Attorney General of Israel and the State Prosecutor announced that the decision whether Deri will or will not be prosecuted will be made only after the elections!Also Haim Katz has been under criminal investigation in two different cases for over a year and a half now. In one affair it was published that Katz was suspected of forcing employees to get registered and vote for him in the Likud primaries. The other affair involved suspicions of exploiting IAI employees and resources for Katz’s personal benefit such as renovating his son’s house. The Attorney General has already declared the decision of prosecuting Katz subject to hearing, the hearing had already taken place and many months have passed, but still there is no decision. In our petitions we made it clear that these delays, especially during the current pre-elections time, are a grave blow to the Public’s trust in the Government, to the status of the Government Authorities and to the Public’s right of having information concerning candidates in the elections: in case of submitting an indictment – or indictments – after the elections, there’s good chance that Deri, or Katz, or both will be suspended from office so that votes given relevantly will be lost.Even by the interests of the defendants decisions should be made due to the aspect of delay of justice. Therefore, however we may regard this issue, it is clear that decisions must have been made already.

No to appointing Nir Gilad as Migdal Chairman! Following the resignation of Migdal’s former Chairman who announced that he “could not guarantee for the policyholders’ money”, publications revealed that he will be replaced by not other than Nir Gilad, a person who had proven time and again that he preferred his own good rather than that of the Public. As Chief Accountant in the Ministry of Finance, Gilad signed the agreement that granted Ofer family more than half a billion dollars for the refineries that are actually the State’s. Then, after leaving his public position, he was appointed CEO of ICL (Israel Chemicals Ltd.), a company controlled by this very same Ofer family. Even when he was involved in the eye of a storm related to corporate governance and receiving $8 million bonus, Gilad was in no hurry to return the money. He did so only after Israel Securities Authority explained that it was a definite case of conflict of interests and the District Court ordered him to return the money.These are only two examples for Gilad’s conduct throughout the years. We contacted the Commissioner of the Capital Market, the person who confirms the appointment, in demand not to confirm it. Migdal Company holds enormous sums out of the Public’s savings and pensions; there should be found a more appropriate person for this position of making decisions concerning the future of the Public’s pensions.

Grave suspicion of conflict of interests: Demanding to remove the PM’s authority of supervising the cyber array – until after the elections The PM is also a candidate in the coming elections. When all over the world the issue of cyber has become critical in regard to political elections, it is unthinkable that the person in charge of the national cyber array will be also candidate in the elections campaign. The digital platforms’ impact on the voters keeps growing, possibly reaching the stage in which most of the campaign takes place there. Given this reality it is obvious that the person in charge of the cyber array cannot be anyone with such a distinct interest as is the case with a candidate in the coming elections.

We asked the Elections Committee to disqualify the candidacy of Eli Ben-Dehan in the Likud list Aiming to unify Habayit Hayehudi, Ha’eehud Haleumi and Otzma Yehudit parties, Netanyahu intervened and signed an agreement promising that the three parties will unite in return for placing Ben-Dehan 28th in Halikud list. Netanyahu also promised that after being chosen on behalf of the Likud to the Knesset, Ben-Dehan would be able to leave and return to his party, Habayit Hayehudi. We consider this move to be a cynical manipulation that mocks the voter’s say and conveys disrespect for the terms party and (its) representatives. The party that was pulled out from the shelf (“Ahi”) seems to be an empty vessel designated only for this maneuvering, the same as connecting Ben-Dehan to the Likud is. Though our request of the Committee was not accepted, we have achieved another important goal which is drawing the Public’s attention to this cynical manipulation and to the damage done to the values of democracy.

Demanding to condemn the Likud’s legal counsel’s remarks against the party’s internal auditor  It seems that Israel’s election campaign has reached a low point when, according to publications, the Likud’s legal counsel Advocate Avi Halevi made severe denigrating remarks against the party’s internal auditor Advocate Shai Galili (who has been striving for the values of integrity and proper administration and was granted Knight of Quality Government Award) such as “you are an informer, you ruin the party and will cause its losing the elections”. This is not about another despicable web talkback but about statements of a person who is supposed to be in charge of the party’s proper legal conduct and as such should act representatively and set an example to others. Following his remarks we contacted the PM and the Likud’s CEO in demand to clearly and unequivocally condemn these remarks.The deterioration in the political discourse must be stopped.

The State Comptroller agrees with us – and criticizes Habayit Hayehudi‘s debts that remained after Bennett and Shaked had left The State Comptroller’s report of February 2018 reveals that the financial account report presents a negative balance, due to which the party was fined ILS 180000.By the time Bennett and Shaked left, the party’s total debts had reached millions of shekels of which ILS 1.8 million are to the State and ILS 272000 due to a State Comptroller’s fine. In contradiction to Bennett’s claim that during his leading the party the debts had been reduced, the media published data by which the party’s deficit as of 2011 was ILS 17 million whereas currently it nears ILS 30 million. Here is an absurd situation: A party’s chairman leaves the party when its debts are heavy and its deficit deep; he is given the opportunity to form a new party that as such is granted election financing plus an advance payment of ILS 3.5 million. This state of affairs harms the State’s funds, the party’s members and the Public as a whole. Following our request of the State Comptroller and the Attorney General to have the issue intensively investigated, the Comptroller’s response explained that the procedure is indeed legal but there is a need to check the law so that, in future cases, whoever leaves a party will join in covering any remaining debts. This response reinforces our struggle to change the law in such a way, that it will not be possible anymore to leave behind debts – certainly not debts towards the Public – when leaving a party.