July 2018

A summary of our activity in July 2018.

Demanding from candidates for the upcoming municipal elections to sign the Convention for Fighting Corruption – as municipal elections approach, we have launched the Convention for Fighting Corruption in local government as part of the vast campaign #notvotingcorruption. We call each and every candidate to be committed to the fight against corruption, to operate with absolute transparency, to protect integrity, to avoid conflict of interests and mainly – not to breach the trust given to them by the public. Corruption rate in our country is increasing constantly, as of now placing Israel 32rd of the world’s states (according to TI – Transparency International), result of its ongoing deterioration over recent years. In addition, there is reduction in the level of securing democracy’s values and its institutions, and in the level of enforcing the rule of law. In signing the Convention, candidates commit themselves to fighting against corruption of any nature and to declaring in their agendas methods of implementing this fighting. They will also be devoted to act fiercely in order to eradicate corruption on a daily basis before the elections, while the elections are on, and in the time afterwards, to protect the rule of the law and fortify the systems responsible to its enforcement, to act with complete transparency, to keep the elections’ integrity and that of their own conduct, to prevent conflict of interests, receiving favors, political appointments and breaching the public trust. According to the Convention, the candidates will further declare that they will fight corruption by ways of education, deterrence, prevention and audit.

For achieving all of these targets, a multi-systemic effort should be invested in local authorities in general as well as in the different committees: tender, audit, planning and building, and others. As part of the struggle we operate events in various locations over the country and invite candidates to participate in them.

Urgent petition to order MK Rachel Azarya to stop the inappropriate use of public resources for advancing her candidacy for Jerusalem Mayoralty – we have urgently petitioned the Regional Elections Committee. According to information arrived at our offices, MK Azarya widely distributed an email post headlined “So how did I decide to run for Jerusalem’s mayoralty?” following by asking the addressees to host home-meetings, act in her election headquarters and assist her being elected. All of these messages were sent by “MK Rachel Azarya” and from her formal email address as a Member of the Knesset. There is no doubt as for the fact that this elections campaign had been sent to email addresses on a list which Azarya manages as a MK. We argued in our petition, that Azarya has been misusing a public source that was provided to her due to her position as a MK: using this list means operating a prohibited election campaign while gaining an unfair advantage over other candidates who are deprived of access to such public assets.

We addressed the Knesset Legal Advisor: Publish guidelines for MKs who run for office in municipal elections – following at least three serving MKs’s announcements of their running for office in the upcoming municipal elections (and following an already submitted urgent petition against MK Rachel Azarya), we asked the Knesset Legal Advisor to publish detailed relevant instructions prohibiting running MKs from using public resources and so to deny them unfair advantages over other candidates.

Following our petition, the High Court would not grant the State another delay in cancelling the Enlistment Law– In September 2017 our petition to cancel the discriminating Enlistment Law had been accepted by the High Court of Justice. It was further decided, that the Law will not be approved immediately but after one year that will serve as an “arrangement period” for IDF and for the Knesset. Now, about two months prior to the Law’s cancellation date, the State asks for a delay of 7 months in implementing the cancellation. We notified the Court of our unequivocal objection to such a delay, which actually means another cynical and coarse attempt to drag time and to avoid deciding in this significant issue. Even more severe is the attempt to “roll on” to the next government (an already accepted strategy in our places) the responsibility of creating an arrangement by which Ultra Orthodox Yeshiva students will be integrated into IDF. Later on, the High Court indeed accepted our stance and rejected the delay.

In addition, shortly prior to confirming the new Enlistment Law, we expressed our fierce objection to it in a letter to the MKs. This law establishes discrimination that will perpetrate severe damages to many basic rights. A Jewish and Democratic State should not tolerate such a situation.

A discussion of our petition against the Dolphinarium transaction – within this transaction, Israel Land Authority and Tel Aviv municipality agreed to advance, together with “Hasha’ar Le’Israel” (“the Gate to Israel”) company, a dubious “land swap” transaction. Accordingly, the company “gives up” its rights in the long-time-forsaken Dolphinarium (the economical worth of which has been undoubtedly proven to be nearly none-existent and its lease contract has been breached by the above mentioned company) and in return gains long-term lease rights in a near-by (to the east) 3 acres plot. This piece of land is one of the rarest and most valuable plots in Israel, with building rights of tens of thousands square meters for constructing a residence and hotels project.

By closing the discussion, the judges perceived the enormous gap between the public’s profit and that of the entrepreneur as reflected by the Dolphinarium transaction. Hence the Court, after critically questioning the transaction, suggested to the entrepreneur to reconsider the swap and to provide the court with an answer within 7 days.

The entrepreneur indeed submitted an answer, which the Movement opposes altogether since it preserves the very distortion of the original transaction.

We have submitted a position paper regarding the “Ottoman Societies” – it has been for ten years now that we operate in contact with various factors regarding the regulation of Ottoman Societies. It is about organizations that had been established according to the Ottoman law of year 1909, and their conduct had never been regulated in any way. Some of these Ottoman Societies are of the largest and most powerful organizations in Israel, like Histadroot Haklalit (The General Federation of Workers in Israel) and some health funds, with part of them receiving massive financial support of public money while cumulatively they are in charge of tens –if not hundreds – of billions of Shekels. Following a call of the Ministry of Justice, we published a position paper suggesting, inter alia, the following steps: 1. Establish within the Corporations Authority the function of a regulator who will be authorized to supervise, enforce and regulate these Ottoman Societies. 2. Apply to them the obligation to report just as demanded of any NGO that is not defined Ottoman Society. 3. Creating an open-to-the-public “list of societies” that will be an approval of the activity of each listed society. 4. Update the law and its interpretation at relevant points and take action toward incentivizing Societies to become NGOs.