July-August 2022

Summary of 2022 July-August Activity

We petitioned the Supreme Court against increasing the parties’ financing due to the elections

Right before the 24th Knesset’s dissolution, its members amended for themselves the Party Financing Law in such a way, that they are able to take more loans from the Treasury. Now the parties not only can borrow huge sums, they can also postpone their debts repayments to the future Knessets. According to updated data we managed to get, the total debt to the Treasury will rise to about ILS 200 million! We petitioned the Supreme Court regarding this issue – there must be put a limit to the waste of public money.

Toward the Elections: We are fighting the forbidden propaganda and maintaining the purity of the elections

As in every election campaign, also this time we keep struggling in order to ensure the elections’ purity and fighting against forbidden propaganda and incitement, and do our best for ensuring proper implementation of the democratic procedure. During the former election campaigns we kept fighting each and every day against the forbidden, inciting and false propaganda: once and again we petitioned against videos and other propaganda materials that breached the law. We had victories: due to our petitions, many times forbidden materials had been removed from the internet. In addition, we published an extended guide that directs the parties on how to perform proper and lawful election propaganda and also warn them that we are being watchful and ready to petition in any case of breaching the law. We are currently investing in updating the guide for the coming elections.

We called on the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance: The banks must be taxed according to the inflation! We opened a public struggle on this issue

It is unacceptable to have only the Public pay the price while the banks are breaking profit records: The Bank of Israel raised the interest rate by 0.75%, the highest in 20 years, and so the current interest will be 2%. This move intends to fight the inflation that is raving across the world over the recent months, but at the same time it produces huge profits for the banks while the Public’s financial condition gets worse. We demanded from the PM and the Minister of Finance to impose temporary taxing of the profits that the banks derive out of the inflation and the higher interest. As is actually being done in Europe regarding this issue, so must be done in Israel – obviously each factor in the State’s economy must join the struggle against the global inflation. It is unthinkable that only the Public will pay the price regarding the cost of living and the increased interests on mortgages and loans while the banks accumulate enormous profits.

An important achievement: Updates to the Propaganda Law have passed – we have been advancing the propaganda regulations into the 21st century!

Prior to the Knesset’s dissolution we joined the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee’s meetings that discussed the implementation of the Beinicsh Committee’s recommendations for amending the Election Law (Methods of Propaganda). To our regret, each election campaign in recent years included forbidden propaganda that harmed the fairness and the equality between the different parties, the purity of elections and the voter’s right of privacy. Therefore this kind of propaganda was essentially undemocratic and fundamentally wrong. However we were informed that just before the Knesset’s dissolution, Knesset Member Gil’ad Kariv, chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee, succeeded to approve in 2nd and 3rd readings the important amendment to the Propaganda Law, according to which it will be obligatory to expose the details of every party or candidate that will advertise on any media, including social networks. Already recommended years ago by the Beinisch Committee, this amendment is expected to prevent the anonymous distribution of fake news, the using of unidentified bots, and any attempt to anonymously alter the elections’ results by parties or candidates. We hope that the next Knesset will continue the process of amending the law and will also impose more severe and effective sanctions on the law’s breakers. In the meanwhile, we are here – waiting for your information concerning any publication that is anonymous, i.e. not identified by a party or a candidate.

We petitioned the Supreme Court against tender exemption for the project of the expansion of Kvish 6 (Highway 6)

Our petition was submitted following the agreement signed between the State and Derech Eretz Company, the present franchisee of Kvish 6. According to this agreement, the company will expand the highway in return for extending its franchise period by yet another three years. Since this decision had been made without issuing a new tender, it is against the law.

The procedure of appointing a director to the Regulation Authority had been accomplished due to the Movement’s intervention

Last May we contacted the Government concerning the failure of delaying the establishment of the Regulation Authority and in particular the procedure of appointing its director. The Regulation Authority had been established due to the Law of Fundamentals of Regulation that passed within the setup of the Arrangements Law. The Regulation Authority was designated to provide the different Governmental offices with consulting and guiding services during the process of consolidating regulations. According to various evaluations, improving the regulation in Israel will amount to ILS 58 – 100 billion in the general potential impact on the gross national income! We were happy to know that eventually, after the many delays, a director had been appointed to the Regulation Authority: Yoel Briss, former legal counsel to the Ministry of Finance.

Why does the Capital Market Authority hide information concerning Alfred Akirov’s possible takeover of Clal company?

We have submitted to the Jerusalem District Court a Freedom of Information petition  Concerning the request of a permit to control Clal Insurance by Afred Akirov and his two children. Our petition follows a former similar petition we submitted to the Capital Market Authority last December, concerning news of Akirov’s intention to request this control permit. Using various arguments, the Authority refused to provide most of the information we had asked for. However, understanding the procedure of Akirov’s request is of public importance since it is about controlling the pension money of thousands of citizens. This is the reason for our petitioning the District Court.

An achievement of the Movement in the fight against the cost of living: Our position paper will be received by the committee that examines the financial regulation

Some months ago we submitted to this committee a position paper, and then joined a hearing, concerning the structure of the financial regulation in Israel. In our view, several different problems emerge due to the current sectoral and decentralized structure of the regulation system. There are many regulators in the Israeli financial market – the Supervisor of the Banks, the Commissioner of the Capital Market and the Securities Authority if to name but a few. Though each regulator has got specific responsibilities, duplications and overlaps can be found in regulations of different sectors, causing hardships in the capacity of the regulators to organize their sectors. While all of us realize how prices in the supermarket ascend, we are not always attentive to the fact that the end-prices rise due to coupons cut by different factors along the way. In addition, also the money has got a “price” and eventually its cost is passed on to the public. We explained that due to all the above mentioned it is highly important to enhance competition in the financial sectors and so it is imperative to ensure that the financial regulation’s new structure will bring about the enhancement of competition in the fields of banking and insurance. To our delight, it seems that the committee for examining the financial structure may accept our opinion.

We demand to boost the competition and to prevent centralization in the real estate market!

We asked the Minister of Construction and Housing, the minister of Finance, the Land Authority and the Attorney General of Israel to explain what is the status of the Government’s decision of August 2021 to establish an inter-ministerial team for enhancing competitiveness in the real estate industry. This team was intended to check the level of competitiveness in this area and to formulate recommendations for the Government. However, as no such a team has yet been established, the prices of real estate and of housing continue increasing: only recently it became known that the last year saw the apartment’s prices highest increase in a decade – 15.4%.

We requested the State Comptroller to examine the claims of receiving forbidden donations by contestants in Merets’ primaries

According to Omri Meniv’s research in Channel 12, a foreign fund transferred money to “The People First”, an association active in enrolling members to Merets party and in actual support of certain candidates in this party’s primaries. The research found that the association comprises only members and activists of Merets and that most of the donations granted to it originate in that foreign fund and finance a political section within the party that supports specific candidates. Following the research we asked the State Comptroller to check these claims. It should be emphasized that the Israeli law, especially the Party Law and the State Comptroller’s guidelines, explicitly forbid the parties running in the elections to receive – directly or indirectly – donations from corporations and from anyone who is not eligible to vote in Israel. Therefore, if indeed there were such donations in this case, it was forbidden to accept them. Moreover, the involvement of foreign factors in the primaries of any Israeli party harms basic democratic values on which the primaries are based and the capacity of voters to realize their democratic rights. Such involvement is harmful to the public trust in the parties’ inner mechanisms and further on in the national democratic system as a whole. If foreign factors manage to influence the parties’ compositions, there is fear that their involvement might spill over also into the general elections.

At last, the State Investigation Committee for the Submarines Affair has started acting however its conduct requires some clarifications

We contacted the Chairman of the State Investigation Committee for Investigating the Submarines and the Watercrafts Affair, former Judge Asher Grunis, and the Committee’s Director Adv. Hosheah Gottlieb and requested them to relate to the Committee’s mode of activity. We asked them to consider three issues: 1. Inviting former Security Forces to the Committee for “preliminary interviews” that were not defined as testifying so that their legal status must be explained. 2. The secrecy under which the Committees acted so far – including these “preliminary interviews” – contrary to the open mode that should be applied according to the mandate granted to the Committee. 3. The Committee’s timetable, including that of the anticipated testimonies. In addition, due to the Movement’s intensive involvement in the efforts to bring about an investigation of this affair, we requested that our representatives will testify before the Committee and present to it the Movement’s point of view. Dr. Adv. Eliad Shraga, Chairman of the Movement for Quality Government, said: “After great efforts the Committee for Investigating the Submarines and the Watercrafts Affair has been finally established. To our regret, it seems that the Committee’s members are in no hurry to discover the truth”.

Was Knesset Member Idit Silman promised reservation? We petitioned the Supreme Court

Following the Attorney General’s and the State Attorney’s lack of response to our demand of opening an investigation, we petitioned the Supreme Court regarding the possible reservation agreement between KM Idit Silman and Halikud party. According to the media, Silman’s place reservation in Halikud had been summarized in an agreement and also by a disclaimer of guarantees given by other factors. It is important to note that according to 57a section in the Knesset Elections Law, any promise of reservation for a Knesset member is forbidden if was given before the 90 days prior to the elections.

The failure of protection in the south: When no one cares to apply an already existing decision

Inhabitants in the south of the country pay a heavy price for not applying the protection plan that is already 7 years old and still no factor in the government is ready to undertake the mission. In September 2014, just a minute following “Tsuk Eytan” operation, the government decided to have “a multi-year plan for the development of the South” that aimed at strengthening and defending the southern villages and towns at a distance of more than 7 km from the Gaza Strip fence. Though intended to advance a protection solution for the whole country, inter alia the decision determined that a plan must be fixed in order to facilitate the construction of reinforced security rooms, shelters and other protection solutions to ensure the readiness of the southern home front. The decision should have been implemented by January 2015 however no plan had ever been realized. We at the Movement have been following this saga for years now while trying to advance the protection plan’s implementation. Once and again we called on the government ministers in attempt to understand the reason for the ongoing delay – during the last year we had contacted several ministers concerning this issue, but to no avail.

We asked the Tax Authority: Were any tax offenses committed in Halikud and Agudat Israel parties? We demand to open an investigation!

We requested the Tax Authority to initiate an investigation against persons in Halikud and Agudat Israel parties in suspicion of tax offenses. We also asked the State Comptroller to hand the finds related to the suspicion to the Attorney General for starting an investigation. Our contact followed the State Comptroller’s report concerning the outcomes of auditing the current accounts of the parties in the 23rd Knesset from April 1st 2020 to 31st March 2021. The report found that the Halikud and Agudat Israel parties did not report and did not pay on time to the Tax Authority the money of the special tax that was deducted from the salaries of employees and activists. According to the Comptroller’s report, Halikud did not report and did not lawfully pay taxes that accumulated to about ILS23 million while Agudat Israel owes the Tax Athority about ILS2.4 million due to a special tax deducted with regard to 2019 two election campaigns. Failing to submit the reports and pay the taxes on time – both issues with relation to the election campaign – contrasts the Tax Law provisions.

We requested the Attorney General to investigate Hadas Klein’s claims regarding improper intervention of foreign factors in the appointment of NSC’s Head

According to the media, Klein’s testimony in Netanyahu’s trial comprised severe claims of improper intervention of foreign and unauthorized factors in the process of appointing Yossi Cohen (former Head of the Mossad) to Head of the National Security Council. According to the testimony Cohen was intended to be appointed CEO of a governmental office but wished to become Head of NSC. This is why businessman Arnon Milchen – who according to the indictment maintained personal relationship with KM Netanyahu (then the Prime Minister) and his wife and granted them various favors over the years – “concluded” with the Netanyahu couple the appointing of Cohen to the position. This testimony presents a very disturbing reality in which persons who should not be exposed to such a subject, should not express their opinions and certainly not decide about it, did intervene in such a senior security appointment.

Following calls to cancel the Supreme Court seniority method, we published our position

Recently the media released information about Knesset members who have been interested in cancelling the method of electing a Supreme Court President. The seniority method was intended to prevent politicization of the Supreme Court and is based on the idea of a “gentleman’s agreement” of the judges that the senior of all will be appointed president. It is important to note that there is no formal procedure that anchors this method so that apparently each of the Supreme Court judges is eligible to present candidacy for the role of president. However, in fact the senior judge is always the sole candidate and the Committee for Appointing Judges chooses him/her automatically. The idea of subjecting this appointment to the decisions of politicians means Supreme Court judges who will fight each other for the position – they will campaign, they will meet with Knesset members – and eventually will be in debt of those who voted for them. As running a campaign deserves financial resources there might arise a situation of a Supreme Court president who owes the appointment to political as well as financial factors. This will be a rather short way to harm the judicial decisions whether they will be the President’s or just by their public visibility.

A few of our recent activities regarding the municipal area

Or Akiva: How longer will the suspected of bribery Mayor continue to hold this position? We demandto appoint a called committee to the town or set up elections for mayoralty. Ramat Gan: We submitted a Freedom of Information request to Ramat Gan Municipality following reports by which the Mayor and other municipality seniors flew to Italy for the cost of about ILS 40,000 of public money, all in order to choose paving stones. Hadera: Toward the end of the suspension period imposed on Tsvika Gendelman, the indicted Mayor of Hadera, we contacted the Attorney General and the Tel Aviv District Attorney (Taxation and Economy) in order to have them request the relevant committee to extend the suspension period.

More from the desk of the Movement

We contacted the Security Establishment’s legal advisers concerning an IDF international security conference that was produced without a tender. * Following the news of reaching a bargain plea with Eliezer Zandberg who was indicted in the Submarines Affair, we urged the prosecution authorities to put an end to the plea bargains that weaken the fight against corruption. Legal cases must be managed in the full. * Was there any improper intervening in appointing Uri Zaki (spouse of Tamar Zandberg, Minister of Environmental Protection) Chairman of Herzl Center? We demanded Minister Zandberg to provide relevant explanations. * We asked Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked: Why was the Supervision Department cancelled? The media reported that the Ministry of Interior cancelled for good the plan to establish a department for administering the tenders for infrastructure of the five year plan for the Arab sector. * The incitement must be investigated: We demanded from the Police Inspector General, the Head of the Shabak (the General Security Agency) and the Attorney General to initiate a criminal investigation of inciting to murder and rebellion as expressed in a Twitter video in which a citizen calls for the execution of civil servants of the Prosecutor Office. * We requested the Attorney General and Netivei Israel (National Transport Infrastructure) Company to examine a suspicion of severe conflict of interest in a tender this company issued for converting over 100,000 lighting fixtures in roads across the country to LED lighting. It seems that a huge tender issued by NTI was advised by Ness Technologies Company whose CEO and deputy director-general have got interests in Tondo, a company deals with smart lighting solutions. * Once again we requested Prime Minister Lapid to decide about the future of “Knaf Tsion”, the airplane intended for flying the state’s leaders – whether to operate or to sell it. A reminder: So far, according to various evaluations, the total cost of the airplane project amounted to one billion Shekels. At the same time, since currently the decision is not to operate the airplane, the Public now pays twice – for the project itself as well as for housing the airplane, for its maintenance, and for the leasing of airplanes and alternative means for flying the leaders in the meantime. * Some of the many events we have recently held for the public: a comprehensive tour of the Supreme Court guided by Adv. Tomer Naor, head of the Movement’s legal department; a hackathon in the Hebrew University for students from across the country who experienced there in writing petitions and position papers concerning government quality; a seminar for educators, intended to grant them tools for educating the next generation in the values of purity of manners and the fighting against corruption; another hackathon.