January 2021

January 2021 Activity Summary Report

About the first discussion of our petition regarding the Submarines Affair

For the first time, judges of the Supreme Court of Justice discussed the gravest corruption affair ever exposed in Israel. Early on, agreements with the parties were discussed: the petitioners – led by the Movement – as well as half of the respondents agreed that in this affair the conduct had been highly problematic, of a manner that had no place in proper administration, and that the affair as a whole reflected an extremely worrying scene of the security factors’ conducting. Hence we claimed that there was agreement enough for ordering the establishing of an inquiry committee. So what was the State’s objection all about? It was not about the need of an inquiry committee, but about the Supreme Court’s interference in the decision of establishing such a committee. The State claimed that “the Public will judge” – an argument that was answered by head of the panel, Supreme Court Vice President Judge Neal Hendel: “Will the Public judge an issue to which it was not exposed?” Indeed, it’s unlikely to determine that the Public will judge while the clarifying processes are not transparent. As long as the investigation materials are covered so that the Public is devoid of essential information relating to the Submarines Affair, the Public is unable to judge what has really been happening. The Shares Affair discussions started also in reducing the parties’ controversy. We examined the agreements with the Attorney General: all of us agree that Netanyahu received a substantial benefit – words too humble to describe the 16 – 25 million Shekels flowing to Netanyahu’s account. Another agreement was about Netanyahu’s lying to the State Comptroller on several occasions concerning the methods of receiving the money. As Netanyahu told the Comptroller, this huge benefit resulted from the profitability of the company in which he had been trading. However, in relevant years the company had lost 57% of its value so that the conclusion is unavoidable: Netanyahu lied to the State Comptroller. The Attorney General also agreed (as he for the first time revealed to us) that Netanyahu reported to the American and the Israeli Taxes Authorities a higher sum he received for selling the shares to Milikovski than the sum he reported to the State Comptroller. We have to remind that Olmert was convicted of receiving anything by fraud due to hiding from the State Comptroller the sum of $300, 000 kept in a safe he had access to. This amount is much lower than the amounts that Netanyahu pocketed privately! The dispute remained between us and the Attorney General is whether, once we agreed about all of the issues, there is a reasonable possibility of not applying a criminal investigation at all. We hope that the judges have internalized how greatly serious the Affair is and will come to understand that this is one of the unusual cases in which the Court’s involvement is needed in order to turn the Attorney General’s decision. If the judges decided to issue decree nisi and determine another meeting in the case, then the AG will have to explain the reason for his avoidance of investigation and to persuade that this reason was relevant. Simultaneously with the discussion in which our team toiled incessantly, we held a protest submarines convoy in which many citizens participated. The convoy set off from different centers across the country, eventually reaching the Supreme Court where we all called for a full investigation of this severe affair.

Achievement of the Movement and triumph of Transparency: The agreement with Pfizer exposed to the Public Eye!

Following our demand that the Government discloses details of the agreement signed with Pfizer Company, the Ministry of Health published the sections dealing with personal data to be passed over to Pfizer. Obviously we do congratulate the Israeli vast vaccination project that advances the country by another step on the way out of this health crisis, however the State institution must keep sheer transparency in whatever is linked to the issue and enhance the Public’s participation – this is the only way for the vaccination project to be successful. It is unreasonable that the State signs with a private company an agreement that relates to information concerning citizens without presenting this full agreement to the Public. Hence, we demanded from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and the privacy Protection Authority to disclose the full agreement as for providing data base of Israeli citizens infected by Covid-19, healed of it or were vaccinated. We were satisfied to find that the Ministry of Health responded to our demand and published in its official site the document (out of the agreement of sharing information with Pfizer Company) concerning the transfer of personal information to the Company. The Ministry of Health is praiseworthy for understanding the importance of full transparency for the Public to have: only in this way the citizens of Israel would be sure that their private information was not abused surreptitiously. In this way only we are able to know that our privacy is protected and that all measures are being taken in order to maintain full medical confidentiality.

Affair 5000? The affairs of the Submarines and the Shares are becoming complex. Following our application, the Attorney General announced that the $300,000 given to Netanyahu were a gift forbidden by law

No less than two years since we contacted him about the issue, at last the Attorney General announced that the sum of $300,000 given to Netanyahu was actually a forbidden gift according to the law. Following, we contacted the AG again urgently and demanded the opening of a criminal investigation. To our regret we found out once again that only an intensive investigation could reveal prohibited conduct. The very same PM who told he has been receiving monies from a relative was exposed business-wise while he was receiving a forbidden gift which he failed to report of. Responding to our Supreme Court petition in the issue, the AG informed a change of his stance by determining that the sum of $300,000 Netanyahu received from his cousin Natan Milikovski was a forbidden gift. It’s a shame that only two years after we had first addressed him did the AG accept our stance; however, it’s better late than never. We will continue our battle inside the Supreme Court in order to have a criminal investigation of the Forbidden Gift Affair and in the Shares Affair, both affairs that were found to be part of one big affair by which forbidden monies flow into the pockets of the Israeli Prime Minister.

Giving to cronies instead of to the needy? Following our petition, Deri’s discriminating project had been frozen and the accompanying prohibited campaign removed

Disguised as “Food Security” project, Minister of the interior Deri had been promoting a project of allocating purchase vouchers that were custom-tailored to the measures of the sector close to him instead of aiming it to all of the needy or the numerous casualties of the health/economic crisis. As if not enough, Deri’s party used this project for an unlawful campaign and through harming citizen’s privacy (as personal information will allegedly be forwarded from the Ministry of the Interior to Shufersal Company). We petitioned against this discriminating plan – already we have succeeded in removing the prohibited campaign.

Significant achievement in the struggle against the Gas Monopoly: The Centralization Committee accepted our stance of rejecting Chevron-Delek participating in the tender of another gas reservoir

As if not enough that Chevron-Delek company has got almost complete control of the State’s gas market, it now occurs that the Company might be given the gift of controlling yet another gas reservoir, a move that will result in creating an absolute monopoly and enormous economic damage with increasing electricity prices for the Public. Such a step will actually put at risk the energetic security of Israel. We faced all of the factors involved in this issue and recently gained a significant achievement: the Centralization Committee accepted our stance and expressed its rejection of Chevron-Delek participation in the tender of the additional gas reservoir. The struggle will continue until true competition is achieved in the electric and gas markets and citizens will be provided with reasonable electricity prices.

An expanded panel of nine Supreme Court judges discussed our petition concerning the demonstration restrictions

It is about a petition we submitted after enacting the law of enabling vastly extensive restrictions on demonstrating during closures. This month the petition arrived at a Supreme Court discussion where we clarified our stance: the right of demonstrating is one of the most fundamental rights in democracy so that harming it is not trivial. It is unacceptable to restrict this right without any profound discussion and checking of alternatives, as if it is about some minor issue and not about our democracy’s very basic foundation.

We demanded from the Police equal enforcement of the closure regulations: The same law for all!

Probably this closure could have been prevented if not for the Government’s failed management and its surrendering to politics and manipulations instead of listening in due time to the professionals and grant priority to the Public Interest. However with the closure on the go and the citizens of Israel pay heavy price economically, physically and mentally, it turns out that leaders of the Haredi (Jewish Ultraorthodox) sector ignore the regulations and call their public to leave their education institutes open and to go on with life as if nothing changed. Indeed this is the situation in many places while the Government is preoccupied with politics and the Police is not really active there. We demanded from the Police to enforce the regulations equally on all of the Public without giving in to political dictation. Violating the orders not only harms the public’s health and endangers its economy and livelihood by raising the chance of a forth closure; it first and foremost crumbles the Society’s own base which is one law for all: no one is more worthy than the other, no sector is above another.

A tailored tender? A political appointment by Minister David Amsalem on its way? We petitioned

Rather strangely and with very bad smell Minister Amsalem has chosen to lower the threshold conditions for the office of Director of the Government Companies Authority, which is a rather main key role. Not just professional standards for such an important office are being given up, but also it is quite easy to suspect that demands have been lowered in order to advance a crony/political candidate. We also argued before the Committee that continuing the process of appointing a director to the Government Companies Authority is not proper due to the transitional government and the election period. We were satisfied to realize that the Committee accepted our stance, and recommended likewise to the Civil Service Commissioner, who accepted the recommendation.

 Jerusalem Mayor Mosheh Leon should promptly get a new, updated, transparent conflict of interest arrangement!

We requested from Advocate Eli Malka, Jerusalem Municipality’s legal counsel, and from Mayor Mosheh Leon to prepare a conflict of interest arrangement for the Mayor and to issue it to the Public as soon as possible. Prior to this and following publications regarding Leon’s breaching of a conflict of interest arrangement, we contacted the Committee for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interests of Elected Officials in Local Authorities. It was reported that the Mayor intervened for the sake of Shafir Company that was involved in the city’s Road 16 project in spite of the Conflict of Interest agreement which was signed by him and according to which he was forbidden from having any touch with the Company which was his client in his former occupation as an accountant. The response of the Committee for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interests of Elected Officials in Local Authorities clarified that the agreement signed by Leon in July 2019 related to Shafir‘s subsidiary company and anyway, the agreement was valid only until January.

This is the reason for our request of a new Conflict of Interest agreement for the Mayor, one that will reflect the updated conflict of interest situation he is in. We also remarked that according to the Attorney General’s standards it is right to consider that within the new agreement, as long as he serves as Mayor, Leon will be prohibited from engaging in the matters of his former clients.

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

Following the constant PM’s office disregard of our requests according to the Freedom of Information Law, we petitioned against this office in demand to expose all information concerning the economic plans during the Corona time. We have to ensure that decisions concerning billions of Shekels taken from the Public’s cash resulted from proper considerations and that the money was spent reasonably and equitably. * We demanded from the Government to appoint a permanent Inspector General, not just a temporary one, to Israel Police. * Following our petition that caused the repeal of the discriminating Recruitment Law that granted exemption from recruitment for Yeshiva students – the Law expired on the last night of January. * Following our involvement, the Ministry of Justice has at last taken action for applying the law of granting certificates of appreciation to whistleblowers. * Water cannon vehicles against democracy? We demanded from the Police Inspector General to re-consider thoroughly the manners of using the different means for dispersing demonstrations and to follow extra strictly the Police regulations concerning implementing these means in order to avoid harming the demonstrators. * Following the penalty imposed on Ashkelon’s former Mayor Itamar Shimoni who was convicted of bribery, we announced: let all mayors be aware of the Public’s and the Courts’ monitoring of their conducts and actions. * We published for the Public to know: The PM’s office holds the dubious title of being a serial lawbreaker when it comes to the Freedom of Information Law. This office also stars as the public authority that ignores the greatest number of Freedom of Information requests: during just the recent two years 15 complaints of avoiding from submitting information have been filed against the PM’s office (of which only one was found to be unjustified). In addition, expenses of no less than NIS 44,000 had been ordered against the office. * Due to Netanyahu’s failure in administering the Corona crisis and his leading the state into a third closure that was the reason for postponing the hearing in his criminal case – there is no doubt anymore that a prime minister against whom there were severe indictments is not able to make state-wise crucial decisions without involving extraneous considerations, certainly not in a time of sensitive circumstances as it is now due to the pandemic. * A stock of demonstrators’ photographs means violation of democracy. We demanded from the Police to explain the continuing phenomenon of photographing demonstrators across the country and without any regulated procedure. Where do the photographs arrive at and for what end? This improper phenomenon must stop! * This month also we held many demonstrations – each week in Keysaria and in other sites all over the country – against corruption and Netanyahu’s functioning as prime minister in spite of his indictments. * The Supreme Court discussed our petition against the tax benefit arranged by Netanyahu to himself. * We contacted the Attorney General concerning harassments of a whistleblower in Wolfson Hospital. Though the whistleblower was granted the State Comptroller’s protection order against harassment in her work place – the Society of Friends of the Edith Wolfson Medical Center – she is being forced to experience a lot of harassments by Wolfson Medical Center where the Society’s offices are located. As examples of the harassments, she told about blocking her entering the offices, preventing her access to the computer and to other office devices, and more. * The Supreme Court discussed our petition against the infinite postponing of passing the State Budget and against the unsupervised passing of billions that the Knesset members decided to allow themselves.