March 2018

March 2018 Activity Summary Report

Say No to erasing Olmert’s criminal record!

After Olmert’s plea bargains, his minimal and symbolic penalty, and the deduction of a third off his imprisonment term without him ever expressing regret or admitting responsibility for his acts – Ehud Olmert submitted to President Rivlin a request for cancelling the period of prescription and the period of deleting his criminal record – which would allow his return to politics. All this was initiated within less than a year following his release from prison –a punishment imposed on him due to his conviction of taking bribes, cheating, and breaching of trust during his various services and while repeatedly exploiting his public status in order to gain personal benefits. This request (of the President) is the last phase in an on-going saga by which Olmert and his solicitors examine the legal system’s capacity of forgiveness; it also may be the last chance to put a limit on these actions, a clear borderline that will stand against currently functioning public officials who disparage the law enforcement authorities and lash out at them. This boundary will serve for future purpose as well, against those of the officials who will consider breaching the public trust for their personal benefit.

Be the reason a wish on Olmert’s side for fast return to the political arena or his will of purifying his name for the sake of history, the Movement insists on having a clear and unequivocal answer from the President and the State of Israel: the NO answer. NO to erasing the shame guilt: first, due to aspiring for proper administration that is honest, loyal to the public and fights and denounces corruption, and second – in order to put an end to the custom of grunting “celebrities reductions”. Deterrence is important too: in no way should we consent to the distorted idea of having convicted criminals functioning once again as part of our government – theoretically or practically.

Above all – corruption should never be forgiven. Pardoning today’s corruption will clearly lead to the corruption of tomorrow. Due to all of these rationales the Movement called the President to reject Olmert’s request and has generated a vast public struggle to which thousands of citizens joined.

After preventing the debt settlement (“haircut”), the historic Fishman Committee hits the road – and the Movement joins the discussions, conveys its stance and collects the public’s questions

After a long fight against debt “haircuts” – with the last chapter being the haircut wished for by Eliezer Fishman – and after another struggle for establishing a relevant inquiry committee, finally the parliamentary inquiry committee was established for the purpose of examining the financial system’s conduct concerning credit arrangements for large borrowers. The Movement participates in the committee’s meetings and has submitted to it a detailed position paper that includes the suggestion to investigate this issue according to three main aspects: 1.The credit allocations’ failures –suspecting that the banks have been performing an on-going preference of large borrowers. 2. The regulator’s failures –suspecting that the supervision of banks fails to function as an effective and deterrent regulator that activates factual enforcement means. 3. The Market’s failures – suspecting that the Israeli Market’s construction – allowing a few ultra-wealthy families to have control of the Israeli economy, this way creating the Market’s extreme centralization – is the initial cause for the situation in which large borrowers were granted preferred conditions. In addition, by help of the social networks the Movement has collected questions from the public to be presented in the Committee’s meetings, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to demand of the banks answers also to the public’s questions.

The Movement demands to expose: What’s going on with the Government’s decisions concerning the return of Jewish assets in Arab countries?

A first Government decision concerning the research and documentation of Jewish assets in Arab countries for possible future compensation demand had been confirmed already nearly 40 years ago (September 1969). Since then, the Government had confirmed many more decisions designated to regulate the assets rights of 1.5 million Jews who escaped or were expelled from Arab countries, forcibly leaving all of their assets behind and eventually arriving in Israel. However, already 4 years ago the State Comptroller specified that the decisions’ application has been full of errors. While responsibility for this issue had been rolled from one office to another, no data was collected and almost nothing advanced. For years now the Movement has been struggling to find out why nothing has been applied, what are the possible blocks and why, in general, everything has been delayed. Regretfully, the Movement got no response whatsoever. For over a year now the Movement has been repeatedly addressing the Office for Social Equality which is in charge of collecting data and establishing the database, but up to this very moment no response has been provided. In the meanwhile, the relevant population grows older, with each year more people – whose assets’ regulation should have tended by that very decision – pass away. About a month and a half ago we submitted a Freedom of Information request that was not answered just as well, in spite of the legal demand to respond within 30 days. The movement hopes for a response this time, so as to spare petitioning the Court.

An Important achievement: The Ministry of Justice will supervise the associations that still work under the Ottoman law –

After ten years of struggles – the Histadrut, the health insurance companies, the teachers union and the rest of such “Ottoman Societies” finally will be supervised by the Ministry of Justice as are all other societies and NGOs in Israel. It is about time that basic standards of transparency and proper management were applied to these organizations.

Following the investigation: Jerusalem deputy mayor Meir Turjman should be suspended from his position as chairman of the local planning and building committee 

After being publicized that the Police investigate suspicions according to which Jerusalem deputy mayor Meir Turjman – who is also chairman of the local planning and building committee – took bribes from real estate promoters in exchange for advancing their interests in the city. The Movement demanded of the city council members to consider suspending him – until the legal situation is made clear – from his duties, in particular from the position of chairman of the local planning and building committee.

Have close associates of minister Kahlon been appointed once again? The Movement to the Court: order the Ministry of Finance to expose the appointments details

After a former Movement’s petition brought about the resignation of “Kulanu” party’s activists who had been appointed to the positions of chairmen of regional planning and building committees, the Movement wishes to examine the mode of assigning the current chairman of Ma’aleh Hagalil regional committee: had any tender been published? Is there any affiliation of the candidate with Minister Kahlon? The Ministry of Finance failed to submit relevant information to the Movement in spite of the latter’s request according to the Freedom of Information law; therefore the Movement had no choice but to address the Court on the matter.

Following the Movement’s appeal: the State Comptroller recommends granting defense to the IRI (Israel Aerospace Industries) Wistleblower

A day after complaining about corruption in the IAI, employee Michael Meirav had been summoned for a hearing followed by his dismissal due to “inadequate functioning”. In the seven years passed since then, Meirav had been attempting to be granted the State Comptroller’s order of defense for whistleblowers. While doing his job at the company Meirav noticed an irregular conduct concerning the contacts of IAI with various suppliers: starting with what seemed to be tailored tenders and continuing to ordering unnecessary equipment which means wasting the public’s money. Meirav reported to his direct superiors and later on to the latter’s superiors as well only to realize that instead of handling his complaints, these persons boxed up his office belongings, blocked his entry to the company’s computers and finally dismissed him. Later on the IAI sever corruption affair had been exposed (partly due to Meirav’s information; within this occurrence other affairs had been traced, like the one of Haim Katz and the registration to the Likud party), but Meirav was not granted the whistleblower defense order. Last year the Movement appealed to the State Comptroller for granting the defense order; this month the Movement’s representatives joined a meeting summoned by the Comptroller in order to discuss the issue.  The representatives unequivocally voiced their opinion of the obligation of granting Meirav the defense order together with returning him to his position in IRA and compensate him financially for the years of suffering he had experienced. Indeed, the Comptroller announced his recommendation of granting Meirav the defense order. At last, the seven years of hard struggles have come to an end.

An important achievement in the fight for transparency: State-owned enterprises will be obliged to report their conduct regarding the public’s money

After many years of the Movement’s constant warning of the absurd situation by which State-owned enterprises are not obliged to publicly publicize their financial reports, the 2019 Budget economic plan states in an amendment that all State–owned enterprises should publicize their reports. This amendment puts an end to the Movement’s and citizens’ chasing authorities through appeals and petitions to Court in order to get information that belongs to the public. From now on these authorities themselves should publicize the reports on their own initiative.

Following the Movement’s demand: an investigation opened against the Mayor of Kiryat Motzkin after releasing a debrief of complaints about breaching residents’ privacy by collecting data relating to them

According to the debrief, the Mayor and other municipality seniors used public money in operating a database (which was not legally registered whatsoever) for collecting residents’ details like email and residential addresses, telephone numbers and even their rates of support of the current mayor Haim Tzuri.

By the suspicions expressed in the debrief, the database is supported by a ILS 70,000 worth system, a cost paid for by the municipality. Due to the Movement’s appeal, an investigation was opened against the Mayor and other seniors.

Anti-corruption public protests

Recently the Movement has been generating demonstrations and joined other protestations against corruption. Among other activities, the Movement organized a number of demonstrations in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and joined many others all over the country in the recent months. Standing out protestations in which the Movement participated this month were the Afula, Haife, Rehovot and Ness Tziona. It is now the midst of a foul wave of corruption, with investigations being opened and corruption affairs explode in various government authorities, both the Local and the National. These affairs comprise junior officials as well as most senior ones; there are affairs that have no references in the media and others that involve top figures of the Government.

The Movement calls everyone to join the demonstration anywhere in the country in order to voice the significant protest against corruption.

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

The Movement contacted the PM and the Attorney General of Israel concerning the new regulations for the State Archives. These regulations might disable the public’s accessibility to materials in the State Archives * The Movement’s acts caused the exposure of information relating to the severe affair of Lev Levayev’s purchase of burial grounds. According to media publications, Levayev purchased from Hevra Kadisha hundreds of burial plots at a cost of tens thousands of dollars for the purpose of establishing a separate and enclosed family burial estate. These plots are actually public grounds, so that the purchase had been completed in contrast to what is allowed by the law * The Movement contacted the Attorney General concerning publications by which close associates of Health Deputy Minister Litzman had been granted preferred accommodation conditions at a hospital * The movement demanded of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to deprive Yona Metzger of the “Rabbi” title due to his conviction of taking bribes, of tax fraud, of accepting a thing by cheating and of obstruction of justice * The Movement demanded of the Attorney General and the Police Inspector General to exhaust the legal tools concerning criminal suspects who signed State Witness agreements and deny them “full immunity” * The Movement congratulates the Commissioner of Insurance for deciding to apply supervision also to controlling shareholders in insurance companies.