August 2014

August 2014 | Quality Report Headlines

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This new bill was written by the Movement for Quality Government (MQG) in cooperation with MK Zahava Gal-On. It calls for lengthening the cooling-off period between the retirement of a public servant from public office until he is permitted to take a job in a related field in the private sector. The bill would extend the period to 3 years from the current 1 year. The purpose of the bill is to restrict the phenomenon of the “revolving door” whereby a public servant views his role in public service merely as a spring-board to an almost immediate position in a powerful private company that does business with, or is regulated by, the government. This creates an inherent conflict of interest which can be extremely damaging to the Israeli Public.

The Movement’s Opposition to the Appointment of Oded Sarig to a Senior Position in the “Migdal” Insurance Company The Movement for Quality Government has called on the Regulator of Capital Markets, Insurance, and Savings, as well as on the deputy to the Government’s Legal Advisor, to prevent the appointment of Oded Sarig, previously the government’s Commissioner of Insurance, to a senior position in the Migdal Insurance Company. The Movement’s opposition stems from the fact that Sarig, while he was Commissioner of Insurance, approved a number of moves by Shlomo Eliahu, including one allowing Eliahu to take control of Migdal.

Leaks from Cabinet Meetings Following the publication in the media of sensitive information from the deliberations of the State-Security Cabinet meeting— which took place during the height of the “Protective Edge” military campaign—MQG turned to the Prime Minister and to the Government’s Legal Advisor demanding that they clarify whether an investigation is, in fact, being carried out into the leaking of a presentation by the IDF from the Cabinet Meeting during the military operation. In the opinion of the Movement, there can be no minimizing the gravity of such leaks from Cabinet meetings during war-time. The leaks can have a negative effect on the decision-making process within the meeting; can damage national security; and can jeopardize the strategic interests of the State.

Opening a School in the Eilabun Regional District As a result of a petition by MQG in the Nazareth District Court in February, 2014 against the Eilabun Regional Council and the Ministry of Education, the Supreme Court rejected the request of the Eilabun Regional Council to delay carrying out the judgment of the Nazareth District Court. Moreover, the Supreme Court ordered the Regional Council to complete construction of the school immediately and to open it for the coming school year on 1.9.14.

Opposition by the Movement to the Plan for the Dolphinarium Compound The MQG along with “Adam, Teva, V’din” registered its opposition to the plan for the “Dolphinarium Compound” currently before the Tel Aviv District Planning Commission. Our position is that the current plan will take too much time to implement, is too ambitious, and too full of flaws. MQG and “Adam, Teva, V’din” expressed opposition to the program on economic, legal, and planning grounds, and demanded that the defects and shortcomings that they have highlighted be corrected prior to approval by the Planning Commission.

Opposition to Transferring Control of the Phoenix Insurance Company to Mr. Jared Kushner MQG petitioned the Regulator of Capital Markets, Insurance, and Savings as well as the Deputy to the Government’s Legal Advisor demanding that they not allow Mr. Jared Kushner to take over control of the Phoenix Insurance Company. In MQG’s opinion, the present situation—in which the current management is interested in giving up its control—should be exploited in such a way as to allow the sale of Phoenix stock only through a public offering. Moreover, the proposed draft agreement between Phoenix and Jared Kushner is flawed and allows the misuse of public funds to further the personal interests of the parties to the draft agreement.

Suspected Inappropriate Appointments Within the Israel Postal Service MQG called the CEO of the Israel Postal Service and the official in charge of freedom of information within the Postal Service demanding that they accept the audit report of Accountant Yehuda Bar-Lev and examine the allegations that were aired in the media concerning appointments to the Postal Service that were improper. The Movement pointed out that as long as the appointment of senior officials in the Postal Service continues to be made improperly, there will be no chance that the Postal Service will be able to restore its financial health.

Our Call to Publish the Information Regarding Grants Given by the Chief Scientist to Pyramid Companies MQG called upon the Minister of Economic Affairs and upon the Chief Scientist in the Ministry demanding that they publish the aggregate percentage of the Ministry’s grants to companies that are controlled by pyramid companies. Our demand stems from the failure of the Ministry to implement the conclusions of a study by the Jerusalem Institute for the Study of Markets in 2011. That study pointed out that the manner in which the Chief Scientist distributed funds led directly to an increase in market concentration.

The “Salt Lands” Scandal MQG submitted an administrative petition to the Jerusalem District Court against the Ministry of Justice demanding information regarding the Ministry’s decision not to indict the Israel Salt Company which was suspected of bribing the head of the Israel Lands Authority. (In 1996 the ILA granted valuable building rights to the Israel Salt Company—held by the Dankner Family—on land in Atlit and Elat owned by the Company but zoned for industrial salt production.) In the opinion of the Movement, the refusal of the Ministry to provide the requested information indicates a grave disregard for the Law for Freedom of Information as well as for the goals underlying the law.

Extending the Suspension of the Mayor of Upper Nazareth MQG called on the Government’s Legal Advisor demanding that he instruct the Suspension Board to increase the duration of the coming suspension of the Mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, to one year—the maximum permitted by law. Until now, the repeated brief suspensions of Mr. Gapso have harmed the functioning of the municipality, led to the waste of resources, and interfered with the ability of the acting mayor to carry out his duties.

Reducing the Fee for an Administrative Petition Under the Freedom of Information Law MQG called on the Minister of Justice, on the Chairman of the Knesset Law Committee, and on the office of the Government’s Legal Advisor to reduce the fee for an administrative petition under the Freedom of Information Law. The justification for our action stems from the need to file so many of these petitions due to the fact that the administrative authorities so frequently refuse to comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law and promptly supply the information when first requested.

The Opposition by Minister Sylvan Shalom to the Recommendations of the Sheshinsky Commission MQG approached the Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galil, Sylvan Shalom, and pointed out to him the fact that his opposition to the Commission’s recommendations was most puzzling—especially since the Director General of his ministry was apparently absent from most of the Commission’s meetings. MDQ further pointed out that the Minister’s opposition failed to consider the need to take into account the broad public interest in this matter.

Updating the Salaries of Members of the Knesset MQG called on the Chairman of the Coalition and the Chairman of the Committee of the Knesset, MK Yariv Levin, to hold an urgent discussion in the Committee of the Knesset regarding MK salaries. Our demand stems from the fact that MK salaries were updated 8 months ago, and MQG strongly suspects that because of the long delay, when the discussion finally takes place in Committee, the recommendations of the Levy Commission will no longer be relevant. (The Levy Commission, chaired by Professor Haim Levy, recommended in June, 2014 that MK salaries not be updated—according to the customary linkage to the average salary in Israel—until the end of 2014. Suspension of the linkage would have reduced monthly MK salaries from NIS 39,000 to NIS 38,000.)

The Revocation of the Appointment of the Head of Tax Collection in the Regional Council of Daburiya The District Labor Court in Nazareth adopted the recommendation of MQG and revoked the appointment of Nour El-din Youssef as Head of Tax Collection in Nazareth. Nour had previously served as the Head of Tax Collection and then ran for Chairman of the Regional Council. When he lost the election he was simply re-appointed to his former post. MQG argued that the re-appointment should have been treated as a new appointment, necessitating the publishing of a public tender.