January 2019

January 2019 Activity Summary Report

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Thanks to our intervention: Minister Galant will return money to the Public Fund

This money is linked to Israel’s 70th anniversary campaign performed while Galant was Minister of Construction and Housing. Paid for by this ministry and in collaboration with The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem (a company that operates as part of the ministry), maps of the Old City of Jerusalem were produced for the sake of this campaign. Though payment for the production was actually made with public money, the maps had Galant’s portrait printed on them side-by-side with his messages. We contacted the Attorney General of Israel regarding these facts as being prohibited elections’ propaganda carried out at the expense of taxpayers. This month we were notified that due to our intervention and this of the Central Elections Committee headed by Judge Chanan Meltzer, Galant decided to return thousands of Shekels of his private money to the Public Fund: the same sum of money taken from the public pocket in order to glorify his name – will be returned to the public.

After petitioning the High Court of Justice: No more a “Puppet on a String” Police Inspector General

We had petitioned the High Court of Justice in demand that the government explains the exact reason for its decision to end the outgoing Police Inspector General Ronnie Alsheich after only three years and especially in this problematic timing. In the discussion held at the Court we presented the broad phenomenon: according to the current law the Inspector General’s service duration is indeed three years, but it can be extended for another year (making it a 4-years’ service), given a “situation of emergency”. However, there are no criteria or procedure explaining what exactly is such a “situation of emergency” and so the issue becomes a tool in the hands of politicians. The Police Inspector General’s service should be defined unequivocally and in advance – not on condition or depended on the changing moods of the government or of any one elected for public office. Otherwise, the Inspector General might become a “puppet on a string” for whoever is to decide in this matter. In their verdict, the judges made clear that there should be given a definite answer to this issue as soon as possible – before appointing the next GI by the next government.

Jerusalem Municipality presents: urban planning conference – with the attendance of a convicted criminal of offenses regarding planning and construction laws?!

The municipal company Eden – that acts under Jerusalem Municipality – performed this month a conference dedicated to the planning of the city’s center. One of the main participants is entrepreneur Laurent Levy, who in 2013 was convicted by Jerusalem Municipality for construction offenses. Levy admitted the accusations with which he was charged, and was convicted. It is an absurd to invite a person who systematically disrespected the laws of planning and construction to a conference discussing in this very subject. Even more absurd is his being invited by Eden Company, a public-money funded company that is supposed to care for public and municipal interests. We contacted Jerusalem Mayor Mosheh Leon, who functions also as Eden’s chairman, and demanded to cancel Levy’s participating in the conference.

We contacted the Attorney General of Israel in demand of establishing an inquiry committee for the Effi Naveh Affair!

Supposing that everything had already been heard and seen, a new affair just popped out: (allegedly) sex in return for nomination starring Effi Naveh, former chairman of Israel Bar Association. According to publications, a police inquiry has been going on concerning the conduct of the Committee for the Appointment of Judges in general and that of IBA chairman Effi Naveh in particular. According to what has been released for publication up to now, there are suspicions of sever offenses concerning integrity, bribe, fraud and breach of trust, all of which can cast heavy shadows on the Committee’s conduct as a whole. This affair harms not only the people directly involved but also the public’s trust of the judicial system altogether. The Committee for the Appointment of Judges is the judicial system’s holy of holies whose ethical image – that is supposed to be impeccable – is being harmed by publications such as the current affair. The more the rising of doubts regarding the propriety of the Committee’s decisions the greater the public’s distrust of the judicial system and the authorities. The resulting public cost might be high, as well as the social prices we will be forced to pay for this affair. The damage is so severe that it requires an intensive and comprehensive inquiry of the complete procedure of appointing judges throughout the time of Naveh’s service as IBA chairman. As consequently the establishing of an independent State Commission of Inquiry is unavoidable, we contacted PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avihai Mandelblitt in demand of establishing such a commission that will genuinely and extensively examine all that happened in this Judges Appointment Affair. We have backed up our call with a public petition signed by thousands of citizens. The current call follows another one made earlier this month to the Minister of Justice in demand to expose all of the judges’ appointments in which Naveh had been involved.

We have contacted the Committee for Giving Permits to Ministers and Deputy Ministers in demand not to confirm the PM’s request concerning his legal expenses

The PM has requested to allow him to receive financial support from his cousin Natan Milikovsky and from businessman Spencer Partridge. In our opinion the case should not be confirmed since it does not stand up to the Committee’s criteria. Furthermore, it is unlikely that wealthy people will fund expenses of a trial that deals with suspicions of criminal acts connected to wealthy people. In another contact we had made we also noted that according to publications the two potential donors were interrogated as witnesses in File 1000 and might be witnesses of prosecution should an indictment be submitted. Their very involvement in the investigation requires, according to our view, the rejection of the PM’s request. Also regarding the PM’s affairs – following his speech in early January we contacted the Attorney General in demand to check whether what was said in the speech could be considered obstruction of justice and of investigation procedures.

Demanding to check the Habayit Hayehudi Party’s debts before allocating funding to Bennet’s and Shaked’s new party

According to publication, when Minister Bennet withdrew from Habayit Hayehudi the party was in debts amounting to millions of Shekels, of them 1.8 million owed to the State and 272,000 due to a fine imposed on the party by the State Comptroller. The publications also revealed that the State Comptroller’s February 2018 report exposed that Habayit Hayehudi‘s balance sheet was negative, for which datum the party was fined 180,000 shekels. Bennet claimed that during his time in the party the debts had actually been reduced, but according to the publications’ data the party’s current deficit amounts to nearly 30 million shekels while at the end of 2011 it was 17 million. It is an absurd situation in which a party’s chairman leaves this party when it owes big sums and its budget is in a deep deficit while he, the chairman, is granted the chance to establish a new party that as such receives elections funding and also an advance payment that will amount to 3.5 million shekels. Since this absurd situation harms the State Fund, the party’s members and the public as a whole, we asked the State Comptroller and the Attorney General to have an extensive examination of the whole affair including possible sanctions for preventing this situation from being carried on. Later on the State Comptroller responded that the procedure is indeed legal but the law should be examined so that in future cases such as this, people who leave a party will participate in covering debts accumulated during their time as party members. Relevantly, we call for altering the law: no exemption from responsibility for debts of former party and no receiving of funding for new party instead of returning to the Public any money that belongs to it.