June 2021

June 2021 Activity Summary Report

A new government is not enough. These are the government’s 9 urgent missions on the way to achieve a true change:

Upon establishing the new government, we presented in details 9 demands which in our opinion the government should execute urgently and immediately:

1. Passing the State Budget: the new government must be quick about confirming 2021 budget. It has been for three years now that no new budget was confirmed while during this time the state has been coping with severe economic crisis and swelling unemployment. Confirming the budget quickly will enable restoring the public’s confidence in the government and will best serve the Public Interest. In addition, the government must refrain from instant amendments in the Basic Laws; such amendments will only serve political interests. Postponing the obligatory budget passing date (from 100 to 140 days from the government’s inaugurating date) is inappropriate, as is changing the law in order to turn the budget from annual to biannual: the game’s rules should not be changed while playing. 2. Establishing an inquiry committee for the Submarines Affair. 3. Cancelling the Exchange Government Law: the State’s basic laws cannot be played with like plasticine. 4. Cancelling the Coalition Funds: the new government must refrain from distributing coalition funds as “rewards” to cronies or to any private needs. The government must promise that once a certain subject is budgeted in any ministry, the certain Knesset Member with whom the agreement was formulated will be strictly forbidden to have any involvement. Taken from the Public’s pockets, coalition funds must be used according to professional considerations only, in an orderly procedure and fully exposed to the public eye. 5. Establishing a State Commission of Inquiry for Meron disaster (we were pleased to know that later on such a commission was indeed established). 6. Appointing seniors to the public service: indeed, later on many appointments had been effectuated, 36 ambassadors included. 7. Passing the law for integrity of public officials: the new government must enact the law that will prevent granting the roles of minister, deputy minister, prime minister and state president to persons charged with crimes. Only this way the anticipated change will not be just changing of persons but a fundamental change of values that will provide public officials with moral standards for creating honest and quality government. 8. Re-evaluation of the gas outline. 9. Applying supervision and transparency to the Ottoman Societies. Highly-budgeted organizations like the Teachers Union, the Medical Association, the Bar Association and the General Organization of Workers (Histadrut) are representing public interests but unlike NGOs they are exempted from the obligations of transparency and financial reporting. Where supervision and transparency are non-existent, corruption thrives.

A call for appointing Opposition representatives to the Knesset committees: the Knesset’s supervision of the Government must be secured!

In an unusual and precedential manner, the current Coalition agreements have left no permanent Knesset committees to be headed by Opposition Knesset Members. Depriving the Opposition in such a way violates the ability of the minority to participate in the processes of parliamentary decision making. Moreover, a situation like this might lead to significant weakening of the Knesset’s power and even to turning the Knesset into the Government’s long arm. Therefore we required from the Organizing Committee’s Chairperson Idit Silman to appoint urgently and immediately Opposition representatives to chair part of the permanent Knesset committees. The Knesset’s supervision of the Government is one of the most critical aspects of Israel’s democracy, with the Opposition having an important role this wise. This is why any harm to the Opposition is equal to offending the Knesset’s power and the separation of powers principle that is essential to ensure proper governance. In order not to turn the Knesset into a “cheer leaders” group of the government, harming the Opposition must be prevented by all means.  

Shredding the documents shortly before Netanyahu left office must be investigated

Following the report concerning shredding of documents in the Prime Minister’s office a short while before Netanyahu left it, we demanded from the Police Inspector General to investigate Netanyahu immediately on suspicion of his ordering his staff to shred documents just hours before Bennet took office as Prime Minister and obviously against the law.

Calling to cancel the gas layout that costs billions to the Public

We demanded from Minister of Economy Orna Barbivai and from Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar to cancel the present gas layout.  Practically, this layout failed due to faint enforcement of competition in the gas market and to the State’s subservience to the gas companies that take advantage of their monopolistic power. Subsequently, not only that the State’s coffers are not filled, but also the electricity prices continue raising at the expense of us all – absolutely counter to the reduction anticipated to result from the gas discoveries. Following our petition against the gas layout already in 2015, the Supreme Court interfered and ruled out the original layout’s problematic section that could have prevented for years any law intended to cancel the layout or change it. Due to this decision, the State’s power versus the gas mega-companies is being preserved so that the State can apply legislative changes in the layout or cancel it. Exactly this is what the State should do given the scandalous conduct of these companies when they make bad use of their monopolistic power. After almost seven years since the gas layout’s affirmation, it is time to admit its failure and put an end to the current outrageous situation.

We demanded from Minister of Justice Sa’ar to establish a government committee for examining the Ruth David Affair

Ministers of justice had come and gone, yet not even one of them dared touching this affair. Former ministers Ayelet Shaked, Amir Ohana, Avi Nissenkorn, Beni Gantz – we had contacted them all. We also petitioned the Supreme Court in demand to establish a government examination committee, but unfortunately to no avail. Just a short reminder of the affair: In 2014 Adv. Ruth David, Tel Aviv District Attorney from 2002 to 2010, had been charged in severe corruption cases and with involvement in cases of the underworld. It seems that David’s contacts with the persons eventually charged together with her had already affected her decisions as District Attorney. There is good chance that these contacts led to bias toward certain cases, to biased decisions, and to unlawful closing of cases. However in 2016 the State Attorney’s Office decided to shelve the former District Attorney’s investigation case. Eventually, the indictment filed against her was softened and comprised only offenses allegedly executed after her retirement. Due to the suspicion that this decision was made out of irrelevant considerations like the wish to protect certain people and decisions and the fear of more “earthquakes” in the law enforcement system, we call to establish an independent examination committee headed by a retired judge that will check the whole story and mainly will put an end to it. We requested the new Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar to do the required action that his predecessors didn’t dare doing in spite of our repeated requests: ordering to establish a government examination committee for the Ruth David Affair. Only a serious checking process will be able to deeply investigate the most bothering affair in the judicial system in recent years, to learn the vital lessons, to rehabilitate the Public Trust and to deliver a severe sentence concerning all the persons who harmed the system and corrupted it.

Thanks to you, our supporters, we established the first-ever framework of mental assistance for whistleblowers

First of its kind in Israel, the project of establishing a framework of mental support for whistleblowers is underway. The plan will be led by therapist Tal Marom who joined the Movement in order to provide comprehensive support and emotional assistance for the people who stand in the front of fighting corruption in the public sector. Not once, whistleblowers pay heavy personal prices due to their honest activity for the sake of the Public Interest – they are forced to cope with harassment and maltreatment in their workplaces and also with dismissals based on false accusations. These are mentally and emotionally complex situations that might lead to a lot of stress. So far, our lawyers helped in legally consulting and representing whistleblowers and also in gaining for them the State Comptroller’s protection orders. But still mental-emotional help was missing, so we initiated a crowd-funding campaign for constructing the first-ever framework of providing emotional therapy to these brave people. Thanks to your generous donations to the campaign, we are being able at last to provide comprehensive help to whistleblowers in stress. We hope this project will advance the State of Israel toward a reality in which there will be no fear of embracing integrity and expose corruption and improper administration that are of the worst and most dangerous diseases threatening any quality government. Tal Marom, our professional who will establish the emotional assistance framework, said: “I am proud to join a movement whose absolute aim is making life here better. Starting their trek out of the values of integrity and honesty, whistleblowers are usually unaware of the personal and familial prices they will be forced to pay mentally, socially and economically. We will be here in order to minimize damages, to accompany and to support, and in order not to leave them facing the system all alone. I will use all my experience and diverse professional tools I have acquired along the years in order to help whistleblowers and their families cope and return to good and meaningful life”. Tal holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation criminology; she is a certified couple and family therapist and also deals with treating and guiding staffs. Formerly she had been directing various frameworks for at-risk populations and in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation. We wish her a lot of success in this important office.

We continue demanding a commission of inquiry for the Submarines Affair  

Since establishing the new government, alongside our legal struggle we have enhanced our public struggle for establishing a commission of inquiry concerning the Submarines Affair. Inter alia, together with 50 former senior members of the defense establishment we demanded from the government to set up a commission of inquiry. We were glad to know that Minister of Defense Gantz indeed offered the Government to do so, but the latter has not accepted the offer yet. We demonstrated in front of the government meetings, traveled to Jerusalem on a submarines convoy, had thousands of people signing our petition – we continue struggling in full power until a commission is established. The new government must order it for the sake of revealing the truth behind the most serious security affair in the State’s history. The new government’s ministers are well acquainted with the affair, many of them even demanded to establish this commission. The public is entitled to get answers to all the unanswered bothering questions: Why the billions-worth purchase of three submarines totally unnecessary to the IDF had been confirmed? Why, against the security system’s opinion, an approval was given to sell advanced submarines to Egypt? Was Israel’s security traded off for private people’s financial gain? In addition to our demand of a commission of inquiry, we succeeded in ensuring that Thyssenkrupp pays back the 300 million Euros it owes the Israeli Public. We also demanded to put this company on the blacklist due to these debts.

Some of the Movement activities in the municipal level for this month

Following the police notice about the evidential infrastructure consolidated against Or Akiva’s Mayor Ya’akov Edri, we emphasized the very poor functioning of this municipality. Already about a month and a half ago we required from the Ministry of Interior to consider interfering in this issue by way of any legal means such as establishing an appointed committee or declaring new elections for mayoralty. * Due to our interference, an illegal construction works – without permissions and against the Ministry of Interior’s regulations – was stopped in Gush Etzion regional council. Illegal building has become an evil disease in many local authorities across the country; this must be stopped. * We demanded from the Minister of Religious Affairs to terminate the employment of Yehoshua Yishai, Commissioner of Jerusalem Religious Council, due to a number of faults in the relevant kashrut system noted in the State Comptroller Report and for which Yishai was found responsible. *

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

We demanded from the Minister of Finance to set up regulations that will enable Bituah Leumi (National Insurance Institute) to receive a joined annual payment from the insurance companies. Refraining from establishing such regulations is an unnecessary fault that causes the loss of hundreds of millions of Shekels per year. * We requested the directors of the religious courts to prepare a list of the judges’ conflicts of interests. * We demanded from the Attorney General and the State Attorney Office to submit a civil claim against Sarah Netanyahu. Though Mrs. Netanyahu pleaded guilty and was convicted, still the ILS 350,000 damages cost she generated is supposed to be paid with public money. There is no reason why the Public should pay and not the person who caused these damages to the State Coffers. * Following the conduct of the PM’s residence during Netanyahu’s tenures, we demanded from the Attorney General that toward Netanyahu’s leaving the place procedures relating to the State’s property and to gifts received during the leaving PM’s tenures will be strictly defined. * In early June we requested the Presidential Residence’s CEO to provide explanations regarding suspicions of severe faults in the general administrative work in the place. The reason for this request was a debriefing that raised grave suspicions relating to the conduct of employees in the presidential residence. * We clarified to the Ministry of Energy our stance, claiming that increasing the gas export quotas and accelerating the gas searches will benefit the gas companies only, while the citizens will have no share in the profits.