July 2019 Activity Summary Report
State Comptroller Engelman: Don’t abandon the fight against corruption!
The new State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman has recently stated his intention to close the department that is dedicated to fighting corruption. We have no doubt that this act will seriously harm the fight against corruption in all levels of government.
This decision joins another intention of Engelman’s – to grant government officials, who are supposed to be under his scrutiny and subject to his criticism, with the ability to choose which issues will be checked.
Engelman’s decision to close the department without transferring its responsibilities to another department contradicts Basic Law: The State Comptroller that clearly indicates one of the Comptroller’s main roles: inspecting the integrity of governmental institutions. The importance of the current case is not only about maintaining the law; it is also about the harmful message delivered to the public, showing that the person who is in charge of the fight against corruption actually abandons it. We contacted the State Comptroller urgently and demanded that he withdraws his decision. In addition we have initiated a public protest against the decision, with thousands of citizens joining us within several days.
We petitioned the High Court of Justice against the temporary Minister of Justice’s decision to replace the Ministry’s Director General
Emi Palmor has been in service of the Ministry of Justice for over 23 years, of them over 5 as the Ministry’s professionally appointed Director General under two different ministers (Livni and Shaked). Palmor was dismissed by the new and temporary Minister of Justice Amir Ohana – in spite of his being a temporary minister. A minister in this status should not conduct a long-term policy, but only preserve the current order of things until a permanent minister is appointed. Added to this, the person chosen by Ohana to fill in the office is rather anonymous and seems to be lacking relevant experience so it’s hard not to fear that extraneous considerations were the reason for this appointment.
Due to this reality we petitioned the High Court of Justice. Ohana should stick to his role as just a temporary Minister of Justice in a transitional government, and he is forbidden from manipulating considerations that are non-relevant to the appointment.
Demanding a criminal investigation against the PM in the Shares Affair
We demanded from Attorney General Mandelblit to initiate a criminal investigation concerning the suspicions against PM Netanyahu regarding his business involvement with his cousin Nathan Milikovski in the Shares Affair. This demand follows media releases by which in spite of receiving information from the State Comptroller, the AG chose to postpone, until after the elections and until final resolutions in Netanyahu’s other three files, the decision to initiate – or not – a criminal investigation against the PM in the Shares Affair. According to the same releases, seniors of the law enforcement system claimed that the information passed from the SC to the AG “smells very badly”. In our opinion, any new material provided by the State Comptroller requires an examination, if not a criminal investigation. Having criminal procedures in certain cases against a suspect – for this matter the PM – should not prevent or delay examining criminal offenses in other cases. Any delay may bring about, even unintentionally, obstruction of justice. Any delay impairs the Public trust in the law enforcement authorities, in elected officials and specifically in the PM. It can even reach a situation of law’s delay toward the PM and damage to his good name. The decision to refrain from advancing procedures harms all parties.
We contacted the Elections Committee: cameras in polling stations should not be the responsibility of political activists
Following the last elections events, the current elections campaign proves again the Likud’s decision to let its activists determine their own law: the party asked the Elections Committee to legitimize the cameras “project” for the upcoming elections. In addition to the apparent damage caused by the cameras to citizens’ privacy, this act caused then – and might cause again – voters to feel intimidated to the extent of giving up their democratic right to vote and to stay at home instead of attending the polling stations. There is no doubt that forgeries must be fought against and the elections’ purity should be maintained as best as possible. However, exactly for these very ends the enforcement authorities exist. No private citizens should determine their own law, surly not those who are politically associated and thus have got definite motives. In an urgent letter to the Elections Committee chairperson and to the Police’s deputy Inspector General we demanded to refrain from confirming Halikud’s request and to let the police do its work – not a number of citizens, the party’s activists, instead.
The financial crisis at the National Insurance Institute
In spite of the severe financial crisis that the NII has been experiencing for a long time now, only disputes concerning money are heard from the governing authorities instead of making attempts to prevent the Institute’s future crash. There is an agreement structured in the 1980’s by which surpluses of collection money that was not paid to people eligible for insurance will be transferred directly to the State. This agreement caused the transfer of ILS tens of billions that were placed as a great part of the State’s budget. Obviously all this money originates from the Public pocket. Forecast is that by 2037 no National Security will exist anymore; the trouble is very well known to the State’s decision makers but the authorities keep wrestling openly about having control of the Institute and its finances instead of caring for the social security of the citizens. In urgent letters to the PM, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Welfare and Social Services we demanded to re-establish the committee that should find solutions to the crisis.
Wage exceptions in the public sector wasted ILS 275 million of Public money. We demand that the recipients will return the money out of their pockets
Released this month, the Ministry of Finance’s Wage Commissioner Report specified wage exceptions in the public sector for 2017. The report presented a disturbing situation of alleged wage exceptions in 93 public bodies by no less than ILS 275 million. Most of the exceptions were among seniors of those bodies, receiving wages higher than permitted by the law. In letters sent to Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit and to the Wage Commissioner Kobi Bar Natan we demanded to exhaust the law with the recipients of the exceptions and with those who confirmed them! We demand that the sums of money will be returned to the State Fund promptly: these persons should not regard this money as their own. We also called to advance legislation and regulations that will include sanctioning whoever confirms wage exceptions and “personal payment charge” that will oblige the recipients to return the money by paying it out of their own pockets.
Forbidden campaign by Halikud and by Ehud Barak?
Following our petition, the PM removed a video that displayed him together with IDF soldiers, a situation that is regarded as forbidden campaigning. According to the Elections Law, any use of soldiers in campaign is forbidden. Similar videos that were released by the PM during the previous elections campaign generated a petition that caused the Election Committee Chairperson to prohibit using soldiers in any campaign, this way keeping the army out of the political arena. Later on, when one of Ehud Barak’s campaign videos involved IDF soldiers, we demanded from him to remove it before we considered further steps. This activity takes place following our success, during the previous elections campaign, in removing videos that did make use of the IDF and its soldiers. Those videos were produced by Ha’avoda, Halikud and Hayamin Hakhadash parties.
More from the Movement’s Desk for this month
Following the protestation of members of the Ethiopian Community we demanded to establish a committee for examining the complaints about police violence ◆ Though the elections are near, there are still some public officials waiting to know whether indictments will be submitted in their cases, or not. KM Bitan already received the police recommendations, Minister Deri awaits a hearing and Minister Katz – already post-hearing – is still waiting for a decision. We called the State Attorney’s Office to make decisions before the elections day: the Public deserves to know the legal status of its potential representatives. Also, the three cases have been administered for a long time now.