May 2022

May 2022 Activity Summary Report

Our law of extending the time period of whistleblowers’ protection has passed in the Knesset!

Following our attorneys’ intensive strain and passing on second and third readings, our bill of amending the Whistleblowers Protection Law was published in the Book of Laws. Now the law determines that the limitation period extends from 1 year to 3 years. This is a significant step for the whistleblowers who many times experience harassment and other troubles that delay the submitting of their complaints. This added time within which whistleblowers can submit complaints regarding corruption (and regarding the consequent harm that afflicted them) is like providing breathing air for many of the whistleblowers who are forced to cope with complex situations.

2021 Knights of the Quality of Government were proclaimed

While daily struggling against those who harm the quality of government in Israel, once a year we get the privilege to cherish the people who contributed to – and so strengthened – our society, democracy, integrity and quality of government. We convey our appreciation by granting them Knight of the Quality of Government awards. We are proud of each and every one of them. The awarding ceremony will take place on July 5, 2022. 

The winners are:

 Judge Neil Hendel, retired Vice President of the Supreme Court; Knesset Member Nira Shpak of YeshAtid party; Adv. Hai Bar-El, Chairman of Oggen NGO for the protection of whistleblowers; Gur Megiddo, The Marker journalist; Knesset Member Matan Kahana of Yamina party, Vice Minister of Religious Services; Rabbi Shai Piron, formerly Minister of Education; Tal Ohana, Mayor of Yeruham; Tamir Pardo, former Director of the Mossad; Einav Peretz CPA, North Region Commissioner in the Ministry of Interior (formerly Chairwoman of the Association of Local Government Auditors); Dr. Doron Navot, researcher of corruption at Haifa University; Prof. Mas’ad Barhoum, General Director of the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya; Tsahal Yehuda Regev CPA, a whistleblower in Merhavim Regional Council.

How come the State Commission of investigating the Submarines and Watercrafts Affair has not yet commenced its work? We petitioned the Supreme Court

Almost four months passed from the government’s decision of establishing an Inquiry Commission for the Submarines and Watercraft Affair. Indeed, a judge had been appointed to head it and its members’ names had been published, yet the Commission has not started working. Together with the Movement’s Security Forum we have petitioned the Supreme Court in require to issue conditional orders and a request for an urgent discussion regarding the commencement of the Commission’s work. From passing the Law of State Inquiry Commissions in 1968 until the present, 20 such commissions had been established – 16 of them according to governmental decisions and 4 by decisions of the Knesset State Audit Committee. In preparation for the petition we reviewed the process of establishing inquiry commissions in Israel and found that unlike this Submarines and Watercraft Commission, in the absolute majority of the cases the commissions started working almost immediately, mostly within a few days, after the government’s decisions of establishing them had been determined. More concerning the Submarines Affair: following our victory in another petition to the Supreme Court, the rationales for closing the criminal cases against Shimron and Chayni – who were involved in the Affair – were published. Following this publication we demanded from the State Attorney Office to publish also the causes for closing them.

Civil servants should not be mixed with politics! We requested to examine the report concerning the acts of Prime Minister Bennett’s political counselor

We asked from the Civil Service Commissioner to conduct a disciplinary inquiry regarding political and party activities of Shimrit Meir, PM Bennett’s political counselor who holds a senior public position. We appealed following a report of her participating in a political meeting with the party’s strategic consultant. According to the report, the meeting comprised distinct political issues, among them ones relating to the PM’s private political strategy and to the conducting of a future election campaign. All of these details are against the Civil Service Regulations that restrict civil servants such as Ms. Meir from engaging in political and party activities. These regulations are highly important in keeping the Israeli Civil Service professional and stable and in maintaining the public trust of it. Mixing civil servants with political activities is destructive! We requested from the Civil Service Commissioner to act promptly for clarifying the claims of disciplinary offense and if necessary to apply the required disciplinary measures according to the Civil Service Regulations. Civil servants must stay out of political and party activity!

A public struggle: Demanding transparency in Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC – Katsa)

Since 1968 this oil transporting and storage government company enjoys a comprehensive confidentiality of its activities so that it is almost completely protected from being exposed to the public eye. Originally, the confidentiality had been granted to the company due to the complexity of its then joint management with Iran (a cooperation that ceased at the end of the 1970’s). EAPC have appeared in the media headlines throughout the years, not always due to positive reasons, e.g. the ecological disaster caused by massive oil spill from the pipe into Evrona nature reserve; the environmental struggles against EAPC’s conduct; the Company’s management faults exposed by the State Comptroller; appointments of cronies (and there’s more). We are demanding to put an end to these troubles by applying sheer transparency to EAPC. The public struggle we had started has been already joined by hundreds of citizens.

Whatever happened to the implementation of the government’s decisions? We appealed according to the Freedom of Information Law

We submitted an appeal for Freedom of Information to the Prime Minister’s Office concerning reports about the progression of implementing government decisions. Each year until 2018, the PM site published a report detailing the implementation statuses of all sections and tasks of the government’s executive decisions. However since that year no such report has been published. In Israel, government decisions are one of the main tools for implementing the central government’s policies in all of the areas of its governing. Consequently, the follow-up and evaluation of the implementation of government’s decisions and their exposure to public inspection are highly important in maintaining and improving the Government’s transparency and responsibility, enhancing the civil service effectiveness and protecting the public trust in the government authorities. Due to all of these reasons we requested to receive details of all reports regarding the progress in implementing government decision from 2018 until now. In addition we asked to receive all the government operative decisions’ follow-ups based on examining the implementation of each and every task needed for executing the decisions, also from 2018 on. The Public is entitled to know whether its elected officials are indeed working for its sake and indeed implement government decisions.

More from the Movement’s desk

We petitioned the Supreme Court in demand that PM Bennett moves to the official residence in Jerusalem and that a date will be set for terminating the renovations. Later on it became known that PM Lapid was expected to reside at the official residence’s enclosure. * We arrived at the Jerusalem District Court and demanded to receive information concerning a political appointment without a cooling-off period of a senior employee in the Prime Minister Office. The person in question moved to this position directly from the State Comptroller Office. * Following our involvement, and a minute before petitioning, Hadera’s suspended mayor Tsvika Gendelman – who is currently facing a serious indictment – resigned from his positions as chairman of the city’s planning and construction committee and in other municipal companies. * We sent an urgent demand to the Minister of Religious Services and the Minister of Internal Security to advance soon the signing and publishing of the regulations that will enable implementing the outline of security and of visitor restrictions in the Meron Festivity. Following our demand, the regulations were indeed approved and published so that the restriction of the crowd at Meron was enabled. * We requested the public committee for determining wages and payments for Knesset Members to recommend deprivation of wages and payments from KMs who don’t attend the Knesset’s and the Knesset committees’ meetings. * We participated in meetings of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee concerning the amendment of the Election Law (Propaganda Methods). We emphasized the high necessity of protecting the public from new propaganda phenomena such as fake news, deep fake, anonymous propaganda, and messages and applications that violate privacy. * After several requests of Freedom of Information that we submitted in relation to Aryeh Deri’s status and the possibility of his breaching the conflict of interest arrangement signed with him, we were informed that Deri is not being employed in the Knesset and does not receive – as a former minister or a former member of the Knesset – any financial or public benefit. * We submitted to the Knesset two new bills for protecting whistleblowers. * We continued fighting for preventing the dismissal of an internal auditor who exposed corruption in a locality in the south and has been suffering severe and illegal harassment despite of his being formally protected by a State Comptroller order. * We continued to accompany dozens of whistleblowers in various proceedings facing their employers, in the State Comptroller office and in the Courts. * We turned to the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Finance concerning the appointment of a chairperson to the Metropolitan Mass Transit System Company (NTA). * We called on the Minister of Environmental Protection to refrain from invalid political appointments in the Nature and Parks Authority. * We called on the President, the PM and the Alternate PM to make use of the “Knaf Tsion” airplane that had cost the public coffers nearly one billion shekels. * We have blocked an illegal waste of public money in Jerusalem Municipality by stopping the Mayor’s forbidden election campaign. * We demanded from local authorities to implement rules of proper administration by preventing political appointments, tailored tenders and the waste of public money. Contact us if you happen to encounter prohibited conduct in your local authority. * We gave lectures in pre-military academies (“Mechinot”) , high schools, universities and home classes.