June 2022

June 2022 Activity Summary report

A public struggle: Who is thwarting the establishing of a State Commission of Inquiry for the Submarines Affair?

Years after our legal and public struggle, the government approved the establishing of such a commission. However despite the six months passed since this approval, the commission has not yet commenced functioning. We have started a public struggle in demand that the commission begins working according to the government’s decision, and immediately. In addition, we published in the media our call to the ministers to bring about the commission’s establishment. Our new struggle petition has been signed already by many – we will not stop struggling through all available public and legal means until the commission is established.

Preparing for the elections: we fight against forbidden propaganda and for securing the elections’ purity

Upon the declaration of another round of elections, and as in any other election campaign, we have started monitoring the parties’ propaganda and activity in order to make sure they maintain the rules of the law and the purity of the elections. In former election campaigns we petitioned against whoever broke the rules and against inciting videos that consequently were removed. We intend to act similarly during the upcoming round in order to maintain the elections’ purity. As the activity toward the nearing elections has already started, we have requested according to the Freedom of Information Law from the Ministry of Transportation to explain how come a campaign of the Ministry highly resembles in its design and contents the campaign of the Minister of Transport’s party.

Knesset Members who don’t work but are being paid?

Already before deciding to disperse the Knesset and moving toward elections, the Knesset had returned from a vacation and resumed working – for just three days a week. However even under these conditions there were several members who did not bother to arrive at their workplace, the Knesset. Instead of working, that is to say monitoring the government’s activity in the Knesset committees; submitting queries and suggestions for the agenda; legislating necessary laws and generally present the public interests in the legislature – some Knesset members preferred bicycling around, flying abroad, or simply refraining from arriving at their workplace even for just three days a week. Before declaring the Knesset dispersing we had requested members of the Public Committee for Overseeing the Salaries and Payments of KMs to recommend – according to their authority – the denial of salaries and payments for Knesset members who are absent from the Knesset’s committees and meetings. From the day the 24th Knesset was sworn in, part of its members have not fulfilled their duties and have been constantly absent from the Knesset’s meetings and committees meetings. Many KMs have not been present at the committee hearings – where the Knesset oversees and legislates – thus betraying their roles and the work for whose accomplishment they had been appointed Knesset Members. Part of the Opposition members have been boycotting the meetings of the Knesset Committees and refused also to establish some of the most important committees that are vital for maintaining proper administration, e.g. the committees of Ethics, the State Audit Affairs, Science and Technology, and the Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee. These are standing committees that apart from their significant role of overseeing the Executive they were granted unique authorities whose absence harms the Public. With no Ethics Committee there is no way to deny salaries and other payments to these disobedient Knesset Members and so it is necessary to have such a recommendation coming from the public committee that oversees the salaries and payments. Given that the Knesset Committees’ functioning is publicly and governmentally important, the constant and continual absence from any parliamentary activity in the committees of certain KMs means disrespect for the Public and the Knesset. The reality is even graver, as part of the KMs earn as much as ILS 45,000 per month with great benefits in addition.

Passing citizens’ portraits? We demand that the Ministry of Interior stops the serious violation of the right to privacy

We have recently sent letters to the Minister of Interior, the Government Attorney General, the Director of the National Biometric Database Authority and the Supervisor of Biometric Applications in the Prime Minister Office concerning the handling (against the law) of reduced-quality images from the Population and Immigration Authority to “another State factor”. In May 18 2022 the Supervisor of Biometric Applications published a report revealing that over the last seven years the Population and Immigration Authority had sent “reduced-quality” portraits of millions of citizens to “another State factor”. This conduct counters the law of including biometric identification means and biometric identification data in identification documents and in information databases. The Supervisor’s report stated that given the current technological developments, keeping these reduced-quality images and accumulating them in “Aviv” and “Rotem” systems that serve the Population Authority actually constitute a biometric database while not meeting the requirements of the law. Another statement detailed that for 7 years from 2015 and on thousands pictures of Israeli residents were transferred to “another State factor”,  external to the Population Authority, as part of ongoing work processes in the audit. Our letters called for stopping the use of the image database in “Aviv” and “Rotem” systems until their use is regulated and the risks entailed from holding the existing information are evaluated. We also called for immediate erasing of the image database that had been transferred unlawfully to that “another State factor”. This is demanded due to the severe violation of the law for including biometric identification means and data in identification documents and in information databases.

Enough of political appointments! Is Tamar Zandberg trying to appoint Yossi Beilin as chairman of the Nature and Parks Authority?

According to the media, Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg of Merets party has been interested in appointing former Merets chairman Yossi Beilin as chairman of the Nature and Parks Authority. The news raised a heavy suspicion that the decision to advance this appointment was based on narrow political considerations, foremost a personal political affinity between the appointing Minister and the candidate. According to the law, the Authority is headed by a plenum that oversees the CEO. The law states explicitly that a candidate for the chairman role must first serve as member of the plenum while this stage is passable only for a person who holds positions or has got the necessary skills of expertise as detailed in the law. At the present, Beilin has got no position in a government office, has got no skills in natural sciences, is not employed by any of the factors in charge of protecting the environment, and is not a local government’s or any organization’s representative, so it is unclear how he can be appointed to a position in the plenum, let alone head it. This is why the suspicion of political considerations has been surfaced. We asked Minister Zandberg and the Government Attorney General to publish the reasons that justify this appointment.

Thanks to the Movement’s petition, The Ministry of Justice imposes more restrictions on political appointments

This is an achievement of the Movement: after petitioning the Supreme Court regarding the appointment of Amir Peretz as chairman of Israel Aerospace Industry and following the SC Judges’ discussion and their long and detailed verdict, the Ministry of Justice decided to impose more restrictions on appointments of persons who were not included in the Team of Directors. According to reports, in a letter he sent to Director of the Government Companies Authority Michal Rosenbaum, Deputy Attorney General Gil Limon related to the verdict that was given in our petition: “The verdict comprises a number of significant determinations that have broad implications and operative meanings and which we’ll have to analyze in depth in the near future”. The verdict conveys the determination that if a minister is interested in appointing a person who is not included in the Team of Directors then an examination should be implemented, meaning – the deviation from using the Team must be given satisfactory reasons and the external candidate should be examined in comparison with the Team’s candidates. According to the Deputy Attorney General’s stance, from now on each external candidate will be examined through such a comparative process. In his letter Adv. Limon called the Government Companies to initiate a professional procedure of forming a precise method that will enable proper comparison between candidates. The letter ended by stating that until establishing the new Team, no candidates out of it will be appointed.

We requested the Capital Market Commissioner to be attentive to Akirov’s attempts to take over our pensions

It is for many months now that we have been struggling against Alfred Akirov’s attempts to gain control of Clal Insurance Company where pensions of numerous citizens are deposited. Once again we called on the Commissioner of the Capital Market, Insurance and Savings Authority to act for cancelling Akirov’s (through his real estate company) holding permit in Clal Insurance and also to freeze the examination of his request for a permit to control Clal. Our current call on the Commissioner follows allegedly more serious violations of the holding permit, mainly interfering once more in a most significant transaction of Clal and appointing another Akirov’s director to Clal’s Board of Directors. We stressed that this whole bunch of acts witness to the actual capacity of Akirov and Alrov Company to navigate Clal’s activities – a situation that is one of the definitions of “control” according to the law – therefore it is clearly a violation of the holding permit as well as a violation of the duty to get a permit of controlling an institutional organ prior to achieving the control de facto. Akirov’s active interference in appointing Alrov’s directors to Clal’s board of directors can be allegedly considered as another violation. We asked the Commissioner to look into this subject and to order to freeze right away the examination of Akirov and Alrov’s request for a permit to control Clal until the investigation of the allegedly violation of the holdings permit concludes.

The parties accumulated debts – will we pay them?!

We say NO to the parties’ debts rollover and to the increase in funding the 25th Knesset elections! We demanded from the Chairman and Members of the Knesset Law and Justice Constitution Committee to reject the options of debts rollover and the increasing of public funding of the parties for the upcoming 25th Knesset election campaign. According to the media, while meeting toward the nearing Knesset dispersing different parties’ representatives suggested to increase the funding units for the Knesset Members together with enabling the rollover of parties’ debts – about ILS 200 million! – to the Treasury. A reminder: already presently, there are several parties that had received loans but were not elected to the Knesset and so they owe the State millions of Shekels. The Knesset is helpless since it can not collect the huge sums that these parties received and did not return: as we had already exposed, Habayit Hayehudi, Ha’atsmaut and Hatnuah Hayerukah parties owe together about ILS 12 million. Elected officials should better act with much more restraint when it is about the State capital – to make do with the present parties funding budget and not increase it even further. This is public money and the time now is problematic enough economically. Due to all of these reasons we demanded from the relevant factors in the Knesset to refrain from promoting the legislation to increase the funding for the parties, a-propos the upcoming elections to the 25th Knesset.

Some of our municipalities-related activities for the month:

We demand to open an investigation against the Mayor of Haifa! Regarding Haifa Municipality Comptroller’s report by which Mayor Einat Kalish hired – and paid with taxpayers’ money – a counselor for following seniors and a council member in hope to come up with any scum materials concerning them, we demanded an investigation. We’ve been following this issue for nearly a half year now – since it was first published. * An achievement for the Movement! The Mayor of Kiryat Motskin will be prosecuted subject to hearing. The State Attorney Office announced that Kiryat Motskin Mayor Haim Tzuri will stand trial subject to hearing due to several allegations, among them taking bribe and breach of trust. Tzuri allegedly carried out these offenses within the affair about which we had contacted the Police and the Attorney General already before the interrogation started. Now we are delighted to realize that this affair will be clarified at court. * An achievement to the Movement! Following the Movement’s intensive efforts, Mayor of Hadera Tsvika Gendelman, who had been suspended from his post due to the indictment against him, retired from his position of Chairman of the (Hadera) Local Committee for Planning and Building. * We petitioned concerning the question whether taxpayers fund positive coverage of Kiryat Shmonah Mayor. According to the Freedom of Information Law, our petition was submitted against the Economic Company Kiryat Shmonah and related to a decision of publishing a magazine on behalf of the Company while two different local newspapers have already been operating. We suspect that the decision of issuing the new magazine was designated for using it as a platform for producing positive coverage of the Mayor’s activities while funding it by public money.

More from the Movement’s desk

We demanded the Knesset Plenum to pass the Defendant Laws, so that a person who was indicted will not be able to serve as prime minister. * We demanded to open an investigation in the case of Knesset Members Netanyahu, Orbach and Silman. According to publications, Silman passed to Orbach messages that might constitute an act of threatening blackmail. Promises of granting reservations – that were allegedly given to Orbach by Netanyahu – also constitute a violation of the Elections Law. As the State Laws are not a mere recommendation, an investigation must be operated in order to realize whether these reports were indeed the truth. * Before the Knesset’s dispersion we explained to the Coalition Members that any promise of any position given to KM Rinawi-Zoabi in return for her resigning from the Knesst will be unlawful. We had explained to the Members that if such a promise will indeed be given, we will fight it by using all possible public and legal means. * Before the Knesset’s dispersion and the changing of Prime Ministers, we petitioned the Supreme Court against appointing Adv. Bizman, head of PM Bennett staff, without any cooling period after his senior positions at the State Comptroller Office. * The State must get ready toward the termination of ICL’s concession period on the Dead Sea! We participated in a discussion of the special Knesset committee regarding the Foundation for the Citizens of Israel. In a position paper sent prior to the meeting we explained to the Committee’s members that in view of the conclusions arising from a number of State Comptroller’s reports, as early as possible a preparation for the end of the concession period will secure the Public’s rights in this case. * We demanded from the Knesset to receive all the information concerning the benefit granted to former KM Litsman as a former minister. A reminder: Litsman had been convicted of crimes and left the Knesset as part of a plea bargain. * We had continued managing our petition concerning Bennett’s home renovations already before he turned from a prime minister into an alternate one. * We gave lectures in pre-military academies, high schools, universities, and in house classes.