May 2021

May 2021 Activity Summary Report

An enormous victory for the Public due to our petition: The Supreme Court defended Israel’s democracy by an historic ruling that unequivocally clarified how impossible is the idea of “playing” with the State’s Basic Laws. Bypassing the Knesset‘s dispersal once the budget had not passed, and transferring billions of Shekels off-budget and without any supervision are unlawful acts.

The Court determined that “Hauser Compromise” is unlawful. In order to realize how important this victory was, it is essential to understand that this “compromise” could have been one of the gravest damages to democracy throughout the State’s history.Israel’s Basic Lawsdetermined explicitly that in case of failure in passing a budget, the Knesset disperses automatically. Being one of the foundations of the Israeli democratic regime, with this law there is possibly no place for political games: it is a timeless basic law, indifferent to political scenarios of any kind. “Hauser Compromise” meant to serve as just a by-pass of this law-clause by a re-legislation that will cancel the Knesset’s dispersal. Crossing this boundary is dangerous and unacceptable –the Knesset could not possibly prevent by legislation its own dispersal. It is scary to contemplate the possible next step after crossing such a line – perhaps a Knesset’s legislation for cancelling the elections and extending its tenure forever? Obviously such harm to democracy must be stopped.  In no way can Israel’s Basic Laws and the regime’s foundations be toyed with as if they were putty, and all for political personal and transient considerations. We had petitioned the Supreme Court in real time – already several months ago – and now the Court defended the basic laws by determining that this “compromise” was unlawful. Up to this very day the State of Israel is denied a confirmed budget because of political tricks the like of the one discussed here: this KM Hauser’s noted compromise held state and citizens hostages in an unprecedented political crisis, the Knesset had been trampled down, a budget had not been passed but instead an 11 billion Shekels addition was confirmed, and transferred without being supervised. By its ruling due to our petition, the Court unequivocally explained that this act was illegal and should never happen again.

We have already collected more than 20,000 signatures on the Defendants will Stay out of Politics! bill

The State of Israel is entitled to full-time elected officials, free to take care of the State’s urgent matters and not their private legal affairs. Israel is entitled to trustworthy, honest and moral elected officials who will gain the Public’s full trust -with no indictment in their background, without each step they take raise the suspicion of whether they do it for the Public Good or for their own private wellbeing. The bill we formulated on behalf of the Movement is about cleaning up corruption from government systems. According to our suggestion, any person indicted for corruption and integrity offenses will be denied the possibility of holding public offices, be it the office of (full or interchangeable) prime minister, president, minister or deputy minister.

A significant achievement in our petition: The Supreme Court demands from the State to explain its refraining from appointing a State Attorney

The Court judges issued a conditional order against the State to explain within 30 days its refraining from appointing a State Attorney. It’s hard not to fear that not appointing a State Attorney is part of a campaign that PM Netanyahu, who is charged with crimes, conducted for weakening the judicial system and taking over its key roles. We will not let this happen!

Demanding from the Minister of Justice to investigate Ruth David Affair

For years now we have been struggling in order to uncover this affair’s truth, an affair that according to publications comprises suspicions of case biases, corruption and involvement in underworld matters. Throughout those years we have reached Attorney General Mandelblitt and all Ministers of Justice in office since the affair had exploded – Shaked, Okhana, Nissenkorn. Though we have even petitioned the High Court, it seems that no one dares checking the most bothering affair happened in the judicial system in recent years. This month we demanded from Minister of Justice (as of May 2021) Gantz: It’s time to expose this affair’s full truth once and for all. Order to establish a commission of inquiry!

The “Sex in Return for An Appointment” Affair: Will the interrogated judge return to function as one?

Judge Etti Kreif had been interrogated on suspicion of allegedly providing Effi Naveh with sexual bribe in return for his influencing the Judicial Selection Committee to appoint her a judge. It recently has been published that she intends to join the Release Committee as a retired judge. Indeed at the time, the State Attorney office decided not to prosecute her, but it was on the condition that she pledged to refrain from returning to judging. It now seems she has withdrawn from this commitment. We demanded from the State Attorney office to renew the criminal investigation against her, because there is no place in the Israeli judiciary system for a judge against who stand heavy suspicions that were not fully clarified.

Investigating the Meron Disaster should not be missed: We demand a State Commission of Inquiry

Following our demand from the Attorney General to question all who were involved in this affair, up to the highest ranks including ministers, we now demand the establishing of a State Commission of Inquiry. This demand is backed by a petition signed by thousands citizens. We demanded also from the PM and the Knesset to establish this commission soon.

What’s going on with the Submarines Affair’s indictment?

We requested Attorney General Mandelblitt and the State Attorney to decide immediately on filing indictments in the Submarines Affair. The investigation has been taking place since 2016, while in 2019 it was decided to file indictments. Since then there were hearings, a year and a half had already passed, but this security corruption affair – the severest ever in the State’s history – must not dissipate. Following our requests, filing indictments have been announced; however, though we blessed the decision, we clarified that in order to achieve full investigation of this entangled affair, a State Commission of Inquiry must be established – just as we demanded it in our petition to the Supreme Court.

The Banks Reform: We demand true competition!

The Bank of Israel has been advancing a reform of the banks’ conduct. For years now, we have been calling to implement such a reform, so we bless the Bank of Israel’s decision to realize it at last. However, it is regrettable that the present reform will not really enhance competition between the banks but will even do the contrary: it will lead them to coordinate prices, on top of their being monopolistic anyway. According to the reform, the banks will share clients’ details! This is a bad idea that will hurt clients’ privacy and cause prices increase. Instead of providing the banks with more power – as does the reform – this power should be granted to new and independent factors that will know how to match up a certain bank to a certain client according to financial effectiveness. This is the way to advance true competition! We submitted several significant amendments to the Bank of Israel and also demanded from the Supervisor of Banks to confirm at last the reform of transition from one bank to another in a click: one of the main reasons for low competition between the banks is the strain and complications that a client faces in the process of switching banks. Another issue we fight against is the amount of unnecessary fees that clients pay without being aware of them. Finding that 26% of bank clients did not get the most discounted routes for their accounts, we requested from the Supervisor of Banks to order the banks to transfer those accounts automatically to discounted routes and to refrain from acting so only upon clients’ disapproval of this act – similar to a former move regarding the management of fees in pension funds. The Supervisor of Banks office informed that they have been considering this suggestion. We will keep following until it is applied.

Was Miri Regev pushing toward setting Ashdod Port as monopoly for 15 years, this way thwarting the competition between the ports?   

There is a State decision of advancing competition in the ports in order to reduce the cost of living. If so, then why Regev, when in office as Minister of Transportation, initiated a move that not only would have thwarted competition but would have set Ashdod Port as monopoly for 15 years? The three seaports in Israel, through which pass 99% of imported goods, are the main gates for the Israel’s foreign trade on which the entire local economy depends very much. The situation becomes more complicated given the monopolies of Haifa and Ashdod ports that together are in fact a duopoly in the area of foreign trade. The low competition in this seaports sector brings on low level of infrastructure utilization, low service level and high wages costs expressed in hundreds of millions of Shekels per year that directly affect the cost of living in Israel. For many years now, the State has been attempting to advance privatization of two docks in Ashdod Port in order to enhance competition in the seaports and optimize the productivity of this port that is considered ineffective and low in its throughput. By this move, the privatized docks will compete with the port and consequently a decrease in the cost of living will take place. However, it seems that this move had been threatened due to Regev’s yielding to the demands of the Port’s Workers Union. When she could not prevent the two docks privatization Regev, supported by the union, started advancing a change in the privatized docks’ designation so that for the coming 15 years they will serve as logistic hinterland to the gas industry only. This way, competition in the goods unloading sector will be nullified and actually, there will be no competition at all. Such a situation will totally thwart any possibility of competition and optimization in Ashdod Port and will set it as a monopoly in goods unloading until year 2036. So instead of developing the seaports and enhance their effectiveness – issues defined as inevitable national needs – a monopoly will be set within a centralized group at the expense of the Public that has been kneeling under the burden of the cost of living.

We demanded explanations from Regev and from Minister of Finance Katz.

The illegal weapons phenomenon in the Arab sector

It is for over two years now that we in the Movement have been calling Israel Police to implement a special operation of confiscatingthe illegal weapons held in the Arab sector. Already in early 2019 we demanded from the Police to refer to the threatening situation of having illegal weapons in the hands of Arab criminal organizations. Our demand followed many complaints we received, from which we learned about highly severe cases of using firearms in order to affect scores of elections to local authorities in a long line of Arab towns and villages. Regretfully, and in spite a long time of warnings coming from various factors, this issue was not referred to. This month the whole state had been in turmoil due to incredibly violent events in Arab places of living and in mixed Arab-Jewish ones. In many of the events the attackers used firearms against citizens as well as against Police and rescue forces. Already in 2019 we had been told by the Police that efforts were invested in trying to locate suspects, however it seems that the Police haven’t done enough in order to eradicate the phenomenon of illegal weapons in the Arab sector. Consequently, having no enforcement, these very weapons are now being directed not only toward the long-time threatened Arab citizens but also toward the entire Israeli society and its security forces. The huge amounts of illegal weapons in the hands of criminal and nationalistic factors create an unbearable situation that requires a comprehensive, fierce and immediate response of all the factors in charge of Israel’s security. Hence we requested Police Inspector General Ya’akov Shabtai to have the Police forces prepared for an inclusive operation of collecting illegal weapons from the Arab sector. It is an inevitable, life-saving operation that must be accomplished soon.

The Inquiry Commissions Performance: Disasters that should have been investigated but were not

The Meron Disaster, and the scandalous conduct of those who were supposed to be responsible for it, reminded once again the fact of having no State Commission of Inquiry established over the last 12 years: The Carmel Disaster, the many flooding disasters in number of towns, the Submarines Affair, the criminality in the Arab sector, the many failures during the battle against Covid 19 and the consequent economic crisis – not in any one of these events and many more had a State Commission of Inquiry been established in order to deliver a severe sentence with those who were in charge and to learn a lesson for ensuring that no such disasters ever happen again. We carried out a performance mentioning all the above events that necessitated Commissions of Inquiry.