October 2020

October 2020 Activity Summary Report

We succeeded in preventing a planned move of the Ministry of Defense to bypass the Government, the Knesset and the National Budget and by this wasting NIS 800 million of the Public Fund

Factors in the Ministry of Defense wished to defer repayments of a loan from 2021 to the years 2027 to 2031 by way of taking extra credit from the lending bank – all of this in order to enable a mega deal of security procurement. The financial meaning of this move is just loan recycling and taking another loan whose interest only, as mentioned above, will be $ 217 million (on top of the interests of the current loan) and all – obviously – at the expense of public money. There is more to it: the Ministry of Defense’s act of taking a loan independently and out of the mechanism of managing the Government Debt is in fact an attempt to create another budget that exceeds the State Budget set by law. This extra budget has no other source of financing but the increasing of the defense budget at the expense of other government expenditures. This move was due to be executed without any Government explicit consent and without the Knesset‘s confirmation – an actual snatch. We contacted urgently the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Attorney General and warned them of the danger in confirming a mega deal that bypasses the State Budget. Our pressure was effective: in a discussion comprising the PM and the Ministers of Defense and of Finance, they eventually decided to cancel the idea of financing the deal by deferring the loan repayments. We will certainly keep following to make sure the decision is implemented.

We warned the Minister of Economy of letting Chevron Company halt the gas supply to the Israeli public and by that cause a rise in electricity prices

The media reported that the energy giant Chevron –the new owner of Noble Energy Company – informed IEC (Israel Electric Company) that supply of gas from Tamar Reservoir will be halted unless IEC will purchase gas from Chevron at high cost. How come one company can stop the gas supply to a whole country? Chevron is allegedly a super-power monopoly in the Israeli natural gas market while the Israeli law is very clear about monopolies’ dos and don’ts: Chevron is forbidden from abusing its monopolistic status: according to the law, by no means it can refuse to supply assets it owns in order to increase profits. However, it is not about just another monopoly in the free market: the natural gas market in Israel is an essential resource for the Israeli public, and the Gas Outline had been established in order to first and foremost ensure “the energy security of the State of Israel”. Given these data, Chevron’s conduct is all the more severe; it might harm badly the gas supply to Israel and eventually to the whole of the national economy. This is why we demanded from Minister of Economy Amir Peretz, from the Director General of the Competition Authority and from the Attorney General to re-examine the Gas Outline’s failure and to bring about its cancellation. In addition, we required to initiate a criminal investigation due to the suspicion of allegedly breaching the Economic Competition Law.

Following our petition: The law exempting Yeshiva students from being recruited to the army will be cancelled

Accepting our stance, the High Court of Justice determined that executing the judgment concerning Yeshiva students’ recruitment will take effect as of February 1st 2021. As no further deferrals will be possible after this date, the meaning is formally cancelling the discriminating Recruitment Law – an act that had been postponed from 2017 up until the present. According to the current legal situation, and as long as the Knesset will refrain from passing a new law, relevant Haredi (ultra orthodox) people will be recruited equally. We welcome the Court’s decision to accept our point of view, discussing the issue in an expanded panel of nine judges.

Our obligation is one: one law for all, one rule of law to all.

Following our complaint: The Ombudsman handles a suspicion of discrimination against Sephardi community in El’ad

Due to our complaints regarding nepotism in real estate allotment in this town, the Ombudsman (retired judge) David Rosen sharply criticized the municipality’s conduct and recommended, unprecedentedly, to deny it certain authorities. We got the information from residents of El’ad who described the conduct of the city’s senior officials, about whom an execution determined, already in 2018, that real estate allocations they had granted to their close associates were in fact “election bribery”. Our complaint described the way in which, against the law, this pattern of allocating lands to close associates keeps going on with the City Attorney ignores reports of breaching the law concerning these lands. Residents described “unequal attitude of the authority” in forcing the law in order to grant an advantage to certain communities. The complaints ignored by the whole lot of the enforcement factors pointed to discrimination against the Sephardi community and preferring this of the Ashkenazi, including cases in which “factors of direct affiliation to officials in the municipality were the ones who benefited from these breaches of law”.

More from the Movement’s desk regarding municipal authorities

We submitted 3 petitions against local authorities who fail to publish Freedom of Information reports as demanded by law * Through legal procedure in the Court we generated publishing tenders for internal auditor positions in three local authorities * Due to a follow-up item on Kan 11 channel related to one of our most important cases – this of Mevaseret Absorption Center – and our fear that the developer and Israel Land Authority failed to meet the commitment given to the High Court of Justice and so do not intend to sell “Price per Occupant” apartments on this land, we sent an urgent letter to Israel Land Authority * We contacted the Minister of Transportation and the Mayor of Jerusalem regarding the distribution of booklets that might be regarded as prohibited propaganda.

We safeguard the Public Money: More about the Movement’s activity regarding finance and economy for this month

Following our relevant petition, we demanded from the Minister of Finance to commence working on 2020/2021 budget * We apply Freedom of Information processes in order to examine procedures of decision making related to economic plans in time of the Corona Crisis * We demanded from the Attorney General to establish administrative guidelines referring to the participation in public tenders of companies criminally suspected with regard to integrity. This issue has currently no regulation * We demanded from the Attorney General and from the State Comptroller to enforce on government members their duty to file capital declarations * We contacted the Attorney General and the public committee for examining the parties’ funding about confirming the parties financial reports – before approving an increase in the parties’ funding * The PM’s retroactive tax benefits: following our petitioning in this issue we intend to clarify to the Attorney General that such a step is illegal. In order to secure long-lasting transparency we initiate requesting from the Minister of Finance to use his authority and apply transparency to the sums of taxable income of all of the ministers, their deputies and the PM * We wrote our opinion concerning the avoidance of implementing the Water Corporations Law. The opinion was published toward the discussion in the Knesset‘s Economy Affairs Committee; we appeared in the committee and in the next step we will petition to the High Court of Justice.

More from the Movement desk for this month

We petitioned against the law restricting the right of demonstrating. Further on a discussion about the issue granted us conditional orders and a decision to increase the panel to 9 judges * We participated in discussing a petition against anchoring the rotation government in basic legislation. Now we are waiting for the Court’s decision * We submitted an administrative appeal for Freedom of Information regarding orders of medical protective equipment for employees of the PM Office. Instead of arriving the office, the equipment arrived the PM’s official residence * We filed a lawsuit in Labor Court against the Ministry of Transportation in demand to stop a tender for appointing a director of the National Public Transport Authority due to suspicion that this tender was tailor made according to a specific candidate’s measures. The Court accepted our request by issuing a temporary order for halting the tender currently * We referred to appointing an Airports Authority board of directors member out of suspect that this person is not fit for the position due to lack of relevant skills and his affiliation with the Minister of Transportation. We also referred to two more planned appointments of persons politically close to Minister Regev * We requested – and received! – information about the New York apartment registered in the PM’s name. However, this information is partial, and so we will follow the receiving of complete information about registering the apartment in the State of Israel’s name * We continued following the phenomenon of the Police taking close-up photos of demonstrators and the issue of a possible store of demonstrators’ details. We requested again Freedom of Information regarding the photographing and the response of the Police Acting Inspector General. We asked the chairman of the Interior and Environmental Protection Knesset Committee to initiate a discussion of the subject * We sent a reminder to the Minister of Internal Security in which we requested that prior to appointing the Police Inspector General, he will set appointment criteria and tenure time * We held meetings with seniors about granting certificates of appreciation to whistleblowers according to the Law for the Encouraging of Morality in the Public Service. We also contacted once again the Ministry of Justice regarding this issue * We sent to the Attorney General a letter concerning the implementation of a judgment, as far as it is given, in favor of a whistleblower from Ashdod Port. According to Freedom of Information Law, we sent a letter to the Shipping and Ports Authority concerning the subject of Seaman’s Books, the obligation of issuing and enforcing  them * We sent a letter to the Military Advocate General about disciplinary prosecuting First Lieutenant Dr. Or Shabtai (the MD from Bahad 1 officers’ training base) * Once again we demanded from the Minister of Justice to establish a ministerial inquiry committee in the Ruth David Affair.