February-March 2022

February-March 2022 Activity Summary Report

An important Achievement: The Commission of Inquiry for the Submarines Affair will be public, transparent and publicly accessible!

We have been fighting in the Knesset for making this Commission public and publicly accessible – and we won! The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ordered that the Commission’s discussions will be open to the public. Further on we requested the Supreme Court President to act for expediting the Commission’s establishment. This month we were informed of appointing former Supreme Court President Asher Grunis to chair the Commission; this is a blessed advance, however we will not let go until the Commission is actually established and on the go.

How much does the State pay for Bennett’s remaining in his Ra’anana house?

We requested the State Comptroller to examine the extensive renovations applied to Prime Minister Bennett’s private house in Ra’anana. These renovations have been executed due to the Bennett family’s refraining from moving to Jerusalem, to the PM’s official residence in Balfour Street. According to the media, the renovations’ cost to the State coffers is tens of millions of Shekels. The procedures led to the decision to renovate must be examined thoroughly, as well as the aspects of wasting public money and the legal validity of Bennett’s decision not to move to Jerusalem.

An important triumph: The tax decreased and consequently also the fuel prices and the cost of living!

Following the rising oil prices worldwide, the local fuel prices recently shot up and became a heavy burden on the public. The fuel prices affect the price of each and every product and consequently the cost of living in general. What part of the public is not aware of is the fact that most of the fuel’s price – more than 50% – is actually a tax: the taxing of fuel in Israel – the blo – is of the highest among the OECD countries. Considering the recent huge increase of the fuel prices we clarified to the government that the Public should not bear the price increase all by itself. As an emergency action, we demanded to reduce – at least temporarily – the fuel taxes. We were pleased to realize that our campaign succeeded, as the Government announced that the tax has been reduced. This will cause a general decrease of prices.

A public struggle in demand to remove Deri “the counselor” from the Knesset

Less than 24 hours after his commitment in the Court to retire from public life, Aryeh Deri started trying to return to the Knesset. In the media, Deri declared that he intended to continue acting in the political arena and in the Knesset as Shas Chairman. According to reports, he was appointed parliamentary counselor of Shas – the latter has already been toiling to achieve a special permit to enable his entering the Knesset Plenum and continue directing the Opposition’s voting the way he used to do up until now. He and his party act as if nothing changed, as if he was not convicted with severe offenses, as if he did pledge in front of the Court not to resume his public activity. Only due to his commitment not to return to public life did Deri receive such an easing plea bargain that comprised reduced offenses and no request for disgrace. Now less than 24 hours after Committing to the above he denied it all. It is impossible to let Aryeh Deri deceive the Court and the whole Public – his return to the Knesset should not be permitted. These events proved how right we were when we petitioned the Supreme Court immediately after the signing of this shameful plea bargain with Deri became known. We promptly clarified to the Knesset Chairman that he has got the authority to consider whether to let Deri be employed as a parliamentary counselor in the Knesset. We addressed the Knesset’s legal counsel also in this case. In addition we demanded from the Attorney General and the State Attorney to appeal to the Court. We noted that Deri had breached the plea bargain granted to him only on account of his commitment to refrain from public activity. Our public struggle was joined by thousands of citizens who signed the petition calling to return to the Court and demand applying disgrace to Deri.

For how long will the spinning door method go on? We say no to shortening the cooling-off period of Prof. Simhon, former director of the National Economy Council

Recent information revealed that Prof. Avi Simhon, until not long director of the National Economy Council, requested to shorten his cooling-off period in order to enable his appointment as an external director at Mor, a pension company that manages assets at about ILS 30 billion of public money. We demanded from the Civil Service Commissioner and the Attorney General to oppose this request: how can supervisors monitor honestly if throughout their tenure they are already staring for the next position in one of the bodies they supervise? The cooling-off period must be maintained!

How does the Ministry of Transport act against the phenomenon of stinging tourists?

Recently, the media published several shameful events in which tourists were forced to pay outrageous sums for taxi travels: one tourist paid no less than ILS 4000 for a travel to Eilat (a travel that is supposed to cost ILS 1000-1500), another paid ILS 700 for the short travel from Ben Gurion airport to Rehovot. The list is long – it seems there is indeed a phenomenon of deception applied by taxi drivers. Contacting the Minister of Transportation, we wished to know how the Ministry acts against this phenomenon that is not only unfair and immoral but also harmful to incoming tourism.

Our petition against appointing Amir Peretz Chairman of IAI Board is about to be discussed in the Supreme Court

This appointment had been fixed in a move that disregarded the Appointment Committee and the Team of Directors. Since establishing the Appointment Committee in 1993, no actual director appointment had ever been implemented against the Committee’s decision. This time, the Committee determined that Peretz had got distinct political affiliation to government ministers, which is reason enough to disqualify the appointment. TheCommittee remarked also that Peretz did not have the “specific skills” neededfor this role. A propos, according to the media, in the meantime Peretz had already asked for a pay raise: from the yearly ILS 750,000 of his predecessor in office to ILS 1.2 million. Following our petitioning the Supreme Court in real time against this appointment, we were answered that the petition will be discussed by Supreme Court judges. A date was fixed for the discussion.

Fighting against the cost of living: we contacted the Competition Authority and took part in the Finance Committee’s discussion

No wonder there is no competition and the prices are sky high: over 50% of the food and consumer products market are held by 10 big suppliers while the Government and the State are fully aware of this reality. We demanded from the Commissioner of Competition to declare the 10 suppliers as a Concentration Group in order to, at last, start taking care of the cost of living. We also participated in the Knesset’s Finance Committee’s discussion and submitted to the Knesset Members our professional and detailed position paper in which we presented our suggestions for immediate solutions in fighting the cost of living. For example: using the power of the Competition Authority to declare a concentration group or a monopoly, publishing the financial reports of monopolies and concentration groups, advancing the issue of parallel import, removing import barriers, and more.

We asked Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli: Why appointing a person who allegedly might be in conflict of interest regarding the metro and the light rail plans?

The Metropolitan Mass Transit System Company is in charge of Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area Light Rail Project that involves budgets of billions. Recently the media informed that Minister of Transport Michaeli considered appointing to the position of this company’s Chairperson a lawyer who, according to the media, currently serves as an external consultant to Meitar Law Offices that has been actively involved in legal proceedings related to this light rail project. We demanded from Minister Michaeli to explain her reason for appointing a person who allegedly might be in conflict of interest or even may appear to be in such a situation.

More from the Movement’s desk

We petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of an employee in the State Comptroller Office who wished to expose corruption but arrived at a dead end with zero response due to a failure of law. *  We performed the first ever conference in Israel about protecting whistleblowers! It discussed whistleblowers’ personal experiences and the practices of protecting them. In addition to whistleblowers, the conference also hosted Knesset members, ministers, former judges and professionals related to the subject on legal and therapeutic aspects. *  We fought for the sake of an internal auditor from the country’s southern region: he had been recognized as a whistleblower but, against the law, was fired. We submitted our opinion to the Court where the case has been discussed and demanded from the Attorney General to open a criminal procedure against the head of the local authority who fired the whistleblower. * No waiting for the next disaster! We demanded from the Ministers of Defense, Finance, Construction & Housing and from the National Emergency Authority to apply the Government’s decision of constructing house secure spaces and other protection solutions for the country’s northern region and around Gaza Strip. This decision has been neglected for years now, in a manner that might cost in people’s lives. * We requested the state Comptroller to examine Halikud party’s ways of using public funding money in covering the heavy costs of legal representation for Netanyahu’s counselors suspected in bothering a State Witness. Following our contact, the State Comptroller included relevant fierce criticism in his last 23rd Elections Report. He also called all parties to arrange in the procedure the method of legal representation payments. * In a discussion at the Public Complaints Commission we represented a whistleblower from the security establishment. *  We helped a senior employee of one of the leading medical centers in his struggle for rectifying severe faults exposed in this center and are currently under investigation. * We go on fighting for the privacy of us all: we requested the Privacy Protection Authority to examine whether sever faults in the Authority’s conduct have been rectified. These faults had been exposed in the State Comptroller Report. * We acted also on the local level: we demanded to open criminal procedures in several authorities; we struggled for appointing internal auditors; we remarked about forbidden election propaganda and demanded to open criminal investigations concerning municipalities’ employees who allegedly breached the law – in Afula, Haifa and other towns. * Due to many complaints we received, we requested the Ministry of Transport to check the reason for deciding to change cars of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway to ones not suited to the line and the platforms and are thus dangerous. * We continue fighting against the cost of living! We implemented an analysis of the food market and the retail and acted relevantly in relation to different regulators. * After three years of our persistent struggle versus five Ministers of Justice in order to have it fulfilled according to the law, a special ceremony of awarding certificates of appreciation for whistleblowers took place in the Presidential Residence. * We fought against Minister Shaked’s invalid appointments. * We demanded answers concerning the reasons led to appointing an incumbent Knesset member as consul in China. * We demanded from Minister of Finance Lieberman to conduct a clean and proper appointing procedure to the important position of chairperson of the Government Companies Authority. * We attacked the contemptuous plea bargain with LItzman, the man who helped a sex offender in her attempts to evade punishment. * We continued struggling for establishing significant Knesset committees, especially the Immigration and Absorption committee that is highly relevant in the current harsh time of the war in Ukraine. * We requested the Government Attorney General to suspend the enforcement of regulations concerning the obligation of fixing systems for the prevention of leaving children in cars. The decision to enforce such a regulation was one of former minister Regev’s most scandalous decisions. * We had been accompanied – and will continue doing so – the legislation procedures of the new recruitment law. Our aim is to ensure the end of discriminating between one person and another, between this blood and the other. * We participated in the Constitution Committee meeting that discussed the recommendations of Beinisch Commission for altering the election law (“Propaganda Methods). We stressed the need of applying the recommendations and the necessity of altering the law. * In the Magistrate Court we fought against a SLAPP lawsuit aimed at a whistleblower. * We continued accompanying the procedure of amending a legislation of protecting employees who exposed corruption and had it passed the first reading. We will keep on following the procedure until a full legislation is achieved. * We keep on fighting against the cost of living! We joined a relevant discussion in the Knesset, requested the Competition Authority to declare that the major suppliers constitute a concentration group and we also submitted to the Knesset members a position paper that comprised our understanding of the immediate actions that should be implemented. * We contacted the Competition Authority regarding an alleged breach of instructions given to the sea ports and regarding a suspicion of harming the competition concept. * We continue fighting against Alfred Akirov’s possible take-over of Clal Company! We demanded from the Supervisor of Banks to re-check Clal Insurance’s permit to hold the major banks’ shares due to the anticipated Akirov’s take-over. Thanks to our actions, the Commissioner of Insurance in the Capital Market announced that there are problems that prevent Akirov’s takeover of Clal through the companies he owns.