March 2021

March 2021 Activity Summary Report

A significant achievement: Following our petition, the Supreme Court determined that Netanyahu is committed to the conflict of interest arrangement and so he must not interfere in decisions concerning the judicial system

It is a crucial move: this decision deprives the charged-with-crimes Prime Minister of his authority to influence the judicial system or his own trial. The decision binds Netanyahu to undertake a conflict of interest arrangement which is unique and exceptional in its scope. For months now we have been expressing exactly the same concept: it is impossible to have a person charged with crimes functioning as prime minister and intervening in appointments and decisions related to the judicial system, the very same system that is in charge of his own trial!

An enormous achievement due to our petition: Before the Elections were due, the Supreme Court cancelled the decision to lock the skies for entry of Israeli citizens

Supreme Court judges reminded the Government that the State belongs to its Citizens, therefore denying citizens the entry to their own country is an absurd. No democratic state worldwide has ever acted this way, which is unacceptable even more so during the time preceding Elections. Unequivocally, this step should not be considered as long as alternatives – like seriously enforced quarantine – have not been examined and approved by representatives of the Ministry of Health. It is obvious now that the State has got no way anymore of closing the gates for entry of citizens; instead, the State’s leaders must take on responsibility, do the work they have been formally committed to do, and see to it that citizens can return to their country according to proper health regulations. This is a greatly important win of the Israeli Democracy: in no way can the entry gates to the country be slammed in front of citizens, and in no way can the procedure of elections be harmed – this is Democracy’s holy of holies. In addition to the petition we demanded from the Attorney General to initiate a criminal investigation concerning the conduct of the Exceptions Committee (that during the time of flights’ cancellation acted in order to confirm entrance in exceptional situations) out of true suspicion that the Committee acted discriminatingly by preferring cronies. We also demanded full transparency of the Committee conduct and public publishing of all its decisions and reasons.

Thanks to our petition, the Supreme Court froze Minister Amsalem’s move that could have eased the procedure of appointing cronies

 Minister Amsalem decided to cancel the “Board of Directors” – a database concerning hundreds of professionals who passed the Government Companies Authority’s tenders and were found professionally suitable to serve as directors in government companies. The Public Service has benefitted a lot from appointing professional persons, chosen through adequate procedures, instead of politically appointing cronies for such offices. Since operating the Board of Directors system, the rate of appointing cronies reduced significantly and the government companies’ efficiency increased enormously, raising the companies’ incomes by 70%! However, it seems that Minister Amsalem did not like this system too much – why optimize the Government Companies achievements when the really important issue is arranging jobs for cronies? So, against the Attorney General’s stance and by exceeding his own authority’s limits, Amsalem just cancelled the bored. We petitioned the Supreme Court immediately and gained quite a huge achievement: prior to all, the Court froze Amsalem’s move. Now, it will be the State’s job to explain to the court this bizarre move.

Keeping the elections clean – fighting forbidden propaganda

As in any other elections campaign, also in the recent one we had been continuously monitoring the parties’ propaganda in order to ensure their compliance with the rules of law and with Elections’ Purity. There were many examples of offending the rules; here are just a few: Propaganda videos of Likud party (one video had children’s participation, in another Minister Miri Regev made use of a municipality’s public building, Knesset Member Osnat Mark made use of health maintenance organizations) and of Kachol Lavan party (also children’s participation). These videos were removed due to our interference. We petitioned against Shas party‘s publications that made use of IDF soldiers; we contacted the Privacy Protection Authority concerning the parties’ use of Elector application that has already been regarded as breaching the Privacy Protection Law; we demanded explanations from the Minister of Finance regarding the “Grants Law” due to suspicion of forbidden propaganda; we demanded an investigation of Deputy Minister Fateen Mulla due to publications concerning contacts for having a foreign factor – namely the Palestinian Authority – interfering in the Israeli elections for the sake of Likud  party; we contacted the State Comptroller and the Central Election Committee concerning the parties’ debts, the loans they were given and the use they have made of Parties’ Funding money.

Channel 20 reporters claim that the Submarines Affair is nothing but a “blood libel”. Is that so?

Another attack of Channel 20 Reporter Er’el Segal on our Supreme Court petition to investigate the Submarines Affair named it “a blood libel”. The repeated attacks on our petition are mostly modeled in a constant pattern according to three simple principles, a method especially noticeable in the present item: 1. Attacking furiously a datum not mentioned in the petition whatsoever and violently charging at details not mentioned even implicitly in the depositions submitted to the Supreme Court as part of the petition. 2. Ignoring the petition’s main issue, this way bypassing the severe information that raises criminal suspicion and is impossible to cope with. 3. Presenting to the readers a new detail through deception, as if a new proof has been found that contradicts the petition. This is how it was presented in the current item: at the first stage, Segal and Channel 20’s staff related at length to a 2013 Israeli initiative of purchasing ships from South Korea. Segal’s attack makes the impression as if according to our petition this deal had been torpedoed out of corrupt reasons. According to Segal, and by pouring loads of words and touching proofs, this is untrue: it is a blatant lie. The only trouble is that the petition did not comprise such a claim. That is to say that indeed there had been an initiative of dealing with South Korea that was cancelled due to justifiable reasons like, for example, the obligation to publish an international tender. Our petition described the initiative to deal with South Korea in order to highlight the stage in which the Israeli Navy strongly refused to purchase ships from Thyssenkrupp. The next step in the attacks on the petition revealed that they lacked the severe details that caused the suspect of criminality, just as Channel 20’s item refrained from mentioning the heavy pressures generated by the Prime Minister’s office in order to prevent publishing an international tender for purchasing ships. This was the epicenter of consolidating a suspicion of crimes: for nearly a year, persons of the Ministry of Defense were forced to cope with the Prime Minister’s office, to repel harsh pressures and eventually to apply an inventive ploy in order to outwit Netanyahu and his people in order to publish an international tender. Even after this publishing, the Ministry of Defense people had to withstand heavy pressures aimed at making them cancel the tender. In a mysterious way, all of these facts did not find place in the attacks on the petition, nor is there any reference to the exorbitant price demanded by Thyssenkrupp, a price that later on shrank considerably only after the persistence to publish a tender. Not only that all of this information was absent, worse than that: Channel 20’s item prized the same shrunk price, however by using the totally opposite concept of attempting to make the impression that this deal did not cause colossal waste of defense funds, as if the exorbitant price has reduced just like that, with no reason. Most amusing is the last part of the item which is a transplantation of details that are allegedly the absolute proof of the petition being nothing but a “blood libel”. But first, a short reminder: this whole wasteful story had been taking place at a time when the IDF suffered from dramatic budget reductions and harsh budgetary shortage, a situation so severe, that the State Comptroller published two exceptional reports concerning “damaging IDF’s readiness for war given a reduced budget”. Facing these circumstances, commanders of all of IDF corps – including then Navy commander Ram Rothberg – got to understand that there was no money. This was one of the reasons that Rothberg, upon taking office, decided to cede grandiose demands – that have been denied by IDF for quite a long time – of purchasing huge ships whose maintenance cost was estimated by billions. Once there appeared to be unanimous understanding that there was no money to waste, an unequivocal budget was determined also for the ships project: $400 million, the sum required for purchasing four ships. The Navy, in accordance, applied some probes and toward the end of 2013 determined conclusively the model suitable for the mission: a 1,200 tons ship. The Movement’s full response is available in a post of March 22 on its Facebook page.

Do ministers advance problematic plans during Elections time?

We contacted Minister of the Interior Deri concerning a new outline within which local authorities will receive added ongoing budgets so that an authority will fund not only the construction of public buildings but also their maintenance by significant costs. Advancing this new outline during an election campaign is problematic since the first neighborhood that will benefit from it is South Kiryat Gat project whose main population is expected to be Haredi (Jewish ultra-orthodox) that traditionally vote for Shas, Deri’s party. There is suspect that this is an attempt to advance a plan in a hurry and against directions of the Basic Law for the sake of political benefit. Enormous budgetary implications should be also considered, as other authorities would probably like to apply similar changes as well. All of these events have been taking place while the State’s budget is still being “continuous”. Another issue concerning which we contacted the Ministry of Finance is that of loaning money to El Al Flight Company: “A highly risky loan that is expected to be deployed over many years to come and whose future repayment is highly doubtful”. This data add to the complication stemmed from the alleged contacts between El Al and Shas party. We also contacted the Ministry of Finance and its Minister Israel Katz concerning a NIS71 million budgetary addition to “The Green Wave” project in Ashdod, planned to be implemented close to the elections. This step stands against a former decision of refraining from allocating any more budgets to this failed and defective project which had been severely criticized in the State Comptroller Report. All of this happens while the State is situated in a significant financial deficit and the government acts according to a “continuous” budget for over a year. Following reports relating to the Ministry of Finance’s aim to advance the transfer of money before the elections date it is hard not to suspect that the money was designated to please Ashdod’s Mayor, who is a prominent Likud supporter.  

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

We demanded from the Prime Minister to appoint straight away permanent ministers to all the ministries whose ministers’ tenures had expired. Next, we petitioned the High Court following the refraining from appointing a Minister of Justice. * We demanded from the Ministry of Transportation information concerning an appointment suspected of having been initiated out of political considerations: Minister Regev of Likud party wishes to appoint a person who lacks any experience in whatever relates to transportation and infrastructure. This person is also a Likud activist. * We demanded from the Attorney General to start a criminal investigation concerning the agreement allegedly signed between the PM and his wife. * We demanded urgently from Director of the Mossad Yossi Cohen to clarify that Netanyahu’s utterances about a political contact between the two of them were nonsense. Following our request, Cohen indeed clarified the issue. * We requested from Minister Gantz to advance directives adjusting transparency and regulation in Ottoman Societies – following the completion of constructing these directives by the professional rank. The Ottoman Societies are nonprofit corporations designated to promote public issues; they were initially based on the 1909 Ottoman Law of Corporations and are not committed to the Israeli law for voluntary associations, therefore they have been acting without even basic standards of transparency and proper administration. Among these corporations are the Histadrut (the largest of workers organizations in Israel), the health maintenance organizations, and more. * Also this month we continued executing mass demonstrations each week and took the struggle against corruption to the streets. * We petitioned the Supreme Court against postponing The Ministry of Defense’s loan repayment. Postponing it means the detouring of the Ministry’s budgetary limits by illegal contracting with a private banking corporation, a move that enables the Ministry to use the loan in order to increase its budgetary expenses without the Government’s confirmation. At the end, the costs of such a situation will apply to the Public. * Our Annual Government Quality Conference comprised social activists, elected officials, media and academia persons and more. Among other issues, some elected officials voiced meaningful expressions throughout the conference. Knesset Member Yair Lapid said: “The Rule of Law is under criminal attack that is funded by foreign money”. KM Eli Avidar said: “The Government established is the greatest political bribery deal in the history of the State”. Km Ayelet Shaked said: “Israel under Netanyahu’s leadership has lost sovereignty over the Negev for the benefit of criminal gangs”. KM Nitzan Horowitz said: “If Netanyahu is elected, this will be the last democratic elections round in Israel”.