March 2020

March 2020 Activity Summary Report

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Activity regarding the failures in handling the coronavirus crisis

While Israel experiences an unprecedented health and economic crisis, we have been watching closely in order to make sure that the various Ministries have been administering the crisis properly. One malfunction exposed recently is that of defected tests for corona, about which issue we urgently demanded from both the Knesset Corona Committee and the Minister of Health to check intensively in order to handle the implications of these tests as well as take measures to prevent such events from reoccurring. Other malfunctions exposed were the severe shortage of ventilators and the lack of guidelines for prioritizing their use. These issues made us demanding once more from the Knesset Corona Committee and the Minister of Health to implement the relevant inquiries.

We demand transparency, supervision and explanations – wherefrom comes the authority to track citizens?!

All of us should feel uneasy by the Prime Minister’s decision to track citizens due to the coronavirus crisis: unlimited violation of privacy should not be enabled even in an emergency. First of all we are demanding to know details: what measures will be taken in order to implement the tracking? Who will carry out the tracking? What will be done with the information? For how long will the tracking continue? Where will the information be kept and under what level of security? Who will be subjected to enforced measures? We applied urgently once more regarding the odd manner of accepting the decision: without the Knesset’s confirmation, without transparency, but as part of emergency regulations confirmed in the dead of night only by ministers of a transitional government. Wherefrom comes the authority to harm Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty? Further on, we demanded from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and from the Attorney General to see to it that the Israeli Security Agency’s tracking of citizens will be supervised and transparent. We also demanded answers relating to Minister of Defense Bennett’s venture with NSO Company.

Petitions to High Court of Justice and protest in the streets: fighting against Yuli Edelstein’s severe harm to democracy

In the last days of his role as the Knesset chairman, Yuli Edelstein conducted in an unbelievably improper manner that unprecedentedly harmed democracy: he refused to accept the Knesset’s majority vote! Against the law’s demand, he prevented the Knesset from assembling in order to elect its new chairperson. With no delay, we petitioned the High Court of Justice and won. The court backed the Knesset completely and explained to Edelstein that he could not prevent the majority of the Knesset Members from acting. Then, Edelstein responded even more unthinkably: he announced that he would not obey the Court’s order. We have submitted another urgent petition – and won it too. This petition enabled the Knesset to assemble without Edelstein gathering it. Simultaneously with petitioning we initiated an outdoor protest – a huge caravan of cars waving black flags gathered from all over the country to make the way to Jerusalem, where we erected a protest tent camp in front of the Knesset. We stayed there until it became possible for the Knesset to elect its own chairperson. In addition, we demanded from the Attorney General to start a criminal investigation against Edelstein, since failing to comply with a court order is a criminal offense that might bring on a punishable by up to two years of imprisonment. As it was recently published that by establishing a new government there was chance of Edelstein’s being re-appointed as Knesset Chairman, we have launched a vast public struggle against this idea. Thousands of citizens have already joined this struggle. It should be mentioned that also Yariv Levin’s appointment is unfit due to his calling for not accepting both the Knesset’s majority vote and the Court’s decision.

No to an inflated 30 ministers government!

We made it clear to the parties: in such a time of highly hazardous medical and economic crisis it is categorical to refrain from establishing a government of more than 18 ministers. recently it was published that agreements discussed between different parties refer to the possibility of appointing more than 30 ministers (some releases note even 36 ministers!). Such a government is an inflated one, certainly not an emergency government. This is a government of corruption and against a Basic Law as well. Our Struggle Petition has been signed already by thousands.

Struggling against a functioning Prime Minister in spite of his indictment

Promptly following the elections we erected a protest tent camp in front of the presidential residence in Jerusalem and stayed there for days and nights until assigning the mandate of establishing a government. We demanded from President Rivlin to refrain from assigning the mandate to a person charged with three indictments for bribery, fraud, and breaching of trust. We delivered a clear message: no one can serve as prime minister when there are indictments against this person – in no way can a state be administered from the defendants’ bench. During the struggle the Movement’s activists were subjected to physical and verbal violence, with one of them needed to be transferred to hospital. This occurrence did not deter us and so we continued the struggle till the end. Moreover, we were forced to petition the High Court of Justice in order to stop Jerusalem Municipality’s harassment of our tent camp. The struggle goes on, also now after assigning the mandate, and will continue until the State of Israel receives a fully-functioning, indictments-free, Prime Minister.

No to closing the courts!

 In the dead of night, interim Minister of Justice Ohana, who never received the Knesset’s trust, led a decision to shut down the judicial system. This unusual restriction applied only to the district and magistrate courts but not to, for example, the rabbinical courts. It is unavoidable to suspect that behind this decision stands the very interest of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who himself faces an indictment, and not professional considerations regarding the corona pandemic. We petitioned the High Court of Justice against the decision while the public struggle keeps going.

Activity for supporting whistleblowers

Collaborating with NGO Advocates for the Advancement of Proper Administration, we filed a lawsuit in Labor Court on behalf of an internal auditor from the country’s northern region whose appointment was thwarted out of unlawful political considerations * In the court, we represented a whistleblower in a big public company * We assisted a whistleblower in the Ministry of Defense during the procedure at the State Comptroller’s * We handled harassment of a whistleblower in a big local authority of the country’s central region who exposed an affair of tailor-made tenders * We warned the Ministry of Education regarding harassment of a whistleblower in schools of the country’s northern region * In spite of coronavirus  restrictions, we accepted (via Zoom app) new whistleblowers to be assisted by the Movement.

Some of the Movement’s recent activities regarding municipalities

We succeeded in influencing a corona-time law that will enable video council meetings in municipalities and local authorities. Our main demands were maintaining transparency of the meetings for the sake of the public and enabling the council’s work videoed regularly and not just in cases of emergency * Following our request for Freedom of Information which we submitted couple months ago we found out that, against the law, 20 local authorities have not been employing internal auditors. We contacted urgently those authorities and the Ministry of Interior regarding this issue * We won a Freedom of Information petition against Ramat Hasharon Municipality concerning suspicion of fictitious employment of a worker there. We now have got all the information needed for further actions * We petitioned for Freedom of Information in demand to expose the agreements of constructing the “Chinese” harbor * Due to suspicion of disrupting the measuring of residential areas for property tax (arnona), we demanded urgently from Beit Arieh local council and from the Ministry of Interior to stop collecting property taxes until this issue is made clear.

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

Our petition succeeded to freeze committee discussions of Netanyahu’s odd request to let donors finance his legal defense * Priot to the disintegration of Kachol Lavan party, there had been an attempt to pass – in a personal, retroactive, improper manner – a law that will prevent Netanyahu’s functioning as prime minister. We demanded from the Knesset Members to stop this action * We demanded from the KMs to stop the attempt of cancelling the Court’s historical decision of 1993 (the Deri-Pinchassi Rule that was accepted following the Movement’s petition) by which a criminally indicted person cannot serve as minister * We contacted the Minister of Transport regarding emergency regulations he implemented without any parliamentary supervision * We contacted the Ministry of Transport regarding a suspicious contracting with a private consulting company linked to Uber * We demanded to start an investigation again Minister of Justice Ohana due to his call to refrain from maintaining the Court’s decision * We handled irregularities in employing butchers at the Chief Rabbinate * We performed over 40 Zoom lectures for school students, preliminary colleges and youth movements all over the country.