February 2018

 Summary of activity in February 2018 edition

Public fight: Netanyahu, declare incapacity until a decision is reached vis-à-vis  your indictment! – The Movement made an appeal to the leaders of the coalition parties to display responsibility to the general public and demand that Netanyahu declare temporary incapacity from his position as Prime Minister of Israel as long a decision has not been taken whether or not to file an indictment against him. The last time recommendations were made to indict a prime minister – it ended in prison. On that occasion, Prime Minster Netanyahu called upon the subject of the recommendations, former Prime Minister Olmert to resign; today, it is Netanyahu’s turn. The grave significance of the summary of the findings of the Police investigation cannot be ignored or underestimated. The Police’s conclusions, that there are grounds for bringing charges against Netanyahu on account of serious crimes committed in the public service, should cause us all to wake up and fight the corruption disease which has reached a climax during this dark time; the Movement’s call has evoked significant feedback in the social media and within a few days thousands of citizens joined the Movement’s fight and signed the petition in the matter.

The Movement approached the Minister of Defense with regard to the security aspects of the submarine affair – The Submarine Affair (“Case 3000”) is liable to have far-reaching implications on the State of Israel’s security. We have recently witnessed an increase in the publications in which senior members of the security agency have expressed serious apprehensions and taken a firm stand against the security implications of the transaction. The grave suspicions surrounding the transaction are indeed being investigated by the Police and the State Attorney’s Office. According to these criminal suspicions, various parties in the Prime Minister’s milieu, the Ministry of Defense and the security industries acted towards advancing the transaction while disregarding the public interest, so that, allegedly, they would ultimately be able to profit from the whole business. According to allegations arising from the publications, a letter on behalf of the Israeli Government containing approval of the sale of submarines with advanced technology to Egypt was apparently sent to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel  – without the knowledge or consent of the then-Defense Minister and the relevant I.D.F. officials. And here is another worrying aspect of the affair – according to various publications, the State President, Ruby Rivlin, approached Merkel and claimed he was concerned about the deal the Germans had made with Egypt. In response, Merkel claimed it was in fact Israel that had approved the transaction – without senior members of the security forces or the President having had any knowledge thereof and as authorized by the Prime Minister’s envoy at the time, Yitzchak Molko. More and more voices of senior security officials are being heard concerning the peculiar step taken by Israel, whereby it waived the exclusivity clause in the agreement, which in effect allows Germany to sell four sophisticated submarines to Egypt, thus constituting a significant increase in Egypt’s military capabilities. The Movement appealed to the Minister of Defense and urged him to exercise his authority and order the establishment of a committee to examine the ramifications and security aspects of the granting of consent to sale of the submarines to Egypt as a condition to the sale of submarines to Israel, as well as to examine whether and by virtue of what authority a permit for sale of the submarines was issued; whether the comprehensive strategic damage to the State of Israel was considered and the nature thereof? And whether it is possible, in real time, to minimize the significant damage involved in the sale to the Germans.

The Movement to Minister Kahlon: don’t surrender to pressure from the monopolies – the public interest is clean air – Last month a government decision was passed concerning the “grossing up of environmental costs in taxation of fuels”, whereby tax on the purchase of polluting fuels: coal and petrochemicals, is to be raised in order to produce a negative incentive against their use. Indeed, an excellent government decision which serves to promote quality of the environment and life of the Israeli public. However, according to publications in the media, the decision has met with difficulties in its implementation because the monopolies, which “live” on these polluting fuels – the Electricity Corporation, “Nesher Israeli Cement Factories” and “Har Tov Cement Ltd.” – have exerted and continue to exert pressure against  implementation of the decision. The Movement calls upon Minister Kahlon to resist this pressure and act in accordance with the public interest, which naturally is clean air.

Call to revoke the approval given to the Cellcom – I.D.B. transition, which is based on a “creative” interpretation of the centralization law – In the framework of the transaction in which Eduardo Elsztain, the controlling shareholder of I.D.B. is seeking to execute a quasi-technical “borrowing” of Cellcom shares, while two of his close associates who serve in Discount Investment Corporation Ltd., I.D.B. and Cellcom are involved, all by way of interpretation which in effect circumvents the regulator’s directives. The Movement demands that the Minister of Communications and the Director General of the Communications Ministry deny approval of this transaction and in addition, that the Minister of Communications finally attend to the loopholes in the centralization law – which in fact render it ineffective.

What about the cleaning of the Augean stables in the Police? – The lenient plea bargain with Menashe Arbiv, former commander of Lahav 433 (Israel Police’s investigations unit) and the closing of the Pinto affair, with a whimper, by the State Attorney’s Office, is a pure and utter disgrace. Indeed, it was for the very sake of the promised cleaning of the stables that an extremely moderate and lenient plea bargain was signed with Rabbi Pinto, on the grounds that he would provide essential information for clearing the stables in questions, which was planned on being carried out in the Police. Lo and behold, we now see that the affair is being closed in another lenient plea bargain and it turns out the promise was false.

Response of the Movement for Quality Government to exposure of the text messages between the judge and the attorney in Case 4000– the Movement for Quality Government is shocked by exposure of the exchange of text messages. To the extent this is true, both the judge and the attorney should be suspended forthwith and inquiry and disciplinary measures should be adopted against them. The Movement ascribes tremendous importance to law enforcement in a just and fair manner. This conduct has an extremely detrimental impact on the law enforcement system and the judiciary and negatively affects the fight against corruption.

We demand revocation of the permit of the Knesset lobbyist who was detained in the framework of the David Biton affair – It was published in the media that Merav Shmueli was detained on account of suspected involvement in the corruption in Rishon Lezion affair, in which, inter alia, Knesset Member David Biton was also interrogated. Shmueli, who for years (perhaps also currently) was a prominent activist in the Likud party and who, according to publications, works as a lobbyist in the Knesset. Following publications of her arrest and interrogation, the Movement appealed to the Knesset chairman demanding revocation of her permit to engage in lobbying activity in the Knesset, in accordance with law and reason.

Investigation of Case 2000– what about the aspect of breaches of the Anti-Trust Law? – The Police announcement according to which there is an evidentiary basis to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu in the framework of Cases “1000” and “2000”, for crimes involving a breach of integrity, ignored another aspect of the affair – the Anti-Trust Law.

According to the facts detailed in the Police announcement – a clear apprehension is evident that the purpose of the talks between Netanyahu and Noni Moses was to reduce competition between the two largest newspapers in Israel – which, in practice, is translated into what is known by everyone as “capital-government-newspaper” relations. A breach of the Anti-Trust Law is also significant, particularly in the case of the two strongest and most influential newspapers in Israel, which determine public discourse and opinion. The Movement acted in this regard already during the investigation and now that the investigation has been concluded, it transpires that there was no investigation whatsoever of the criminal aspect in question, for unknown reasons.

Upon publication of the Police’s recommendations, the Movement once again appealed to the Attorney General and to the State Attorney and demanded that the Attorney General order the law enforcement system to fulfill its duty and investigate also this important aspect of the affair.

Following the inquiry concerning the collection of data and the breach of privacy of residents, the Movement petitioned the Attorney General: initiate an investigation against the Mayor of Kiryat Motzkin – According to an investigation published in the media, the mayor of Kiryat Motzkin, Haim Tzuri and other senior municipal officials acted incompetently, prima facie even amounting to criminal conduct, in taking advantage of their access to municipal public funds for purposes of advancing Tzuri’s election as mayor. According to publications, Tzuri and other municipal officials used the public funds in order to operate a computerized data base, which has not been lawfully registered, for the purpose of collecting information pertaining to the city’s residents – addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, but above and beyond this – according to the investigation published, Tzuri and his associates collect data regarding the level of the residents’ support of mayor Tzuri, while categorizing them by groups according to the level of support anticipated in the coming elections. Testimonies, in the newspaper article, of residents who were classified in the system as “opponents” of the mayor, indicate negative and discriminatory treatment which they received by municipal officials. The system, which was purchased for the sum of approximately NIS 70,000 from a private company and from residents’ funds (!), was falsely presented as being required for the sake of “administering a data base for municipal purposes” – “purposes” that were allegedly designed to facilitate Tzuri’s re-election as mayor for the sixth consecutive time. Following the investigation – we appealed to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and to the Chief of Police, Roni Alsheikh in order to instigate a criminal inquiry in the matter. As a result of our complaint and a complaint by the Israel Movement for Integrity, the Privacy Protection Authority at the Ministry of Justice initiated a criminal investigation against the Kiryat Motzkin Municipality and Mayor Haim Tzuri.

Following the Police recommendation: the Movement calls upon Haim Katz to suspend himself until an investigation of the suspicions has been concluded – The Police has recently announced that a firm evidentiary foundation has been established for the indictment of Minister Katz for crimes of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and forceful extortion, the aforesaid alongside a list of other senior members of the workers union at Israel Aerospace Industry – including the current chairman of the committee, committee members and a member of the company’s board of directors – who too are suspected of crimes involving a breach of integrity and, inter alia, the receipt and acceptance of bribes; consequently, the Movement has called upon Katz to suspend himself until clarification of the allegations has been completed.

Public protest against corruption – The Movement has recently held demonstrations and participated in protest events against the corruption. Amongst others, the Movement organized a number of protest demonstration at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and in recent months it also joined many protests throughout the country – in addition to the Movement’s participation in the protest in Afula, which featured prominently this month. At the height of a vile wave of corruption, probes are being instigated and corruption affairs are erupting in the various local authorities, in local government, in the national government, from the lowest to the highest ranking officials, from affairs which don’t even reach the newspapers to affairs in which the senior members of government are involved. The Movement appeals to all to go out and demonstrate wherever is necessary and give expression to the important voice against corruption.

And more on the Movement’s table this month – The Movement congratulates the Knesset on the wonderful initiative to establish the Knesset parliamentary supervision coordination unit, to supervise the government’s performance. • Two years after the new Deri affair exploded – the Movement insists on understanding what is happening with the investigation and has appealed to the Commissioner of Police in the matter. • The Movement: the appointment of an intermediate–level candidate to the civil service commissioner – is unacceptable. The Movement with regard to the Nir Hefetz – Gerstel affair: the writing was on the wall, private aides to political figures should be prohibited from simultaneously representing entities before state authorities The Movement appeals to the elected representatives and ministers to desist from the vicious attacks on the law enforcement system and on MK Yair Lapid as a result of his testimony to the Police in the Prime Minister’s investigations. The Dolphinarium affair: The Movement has filed a motion to the court to issue an interim order against destruction of the Dolphinarium building – until the holding of a hearing in the petition filed by the Movement against the Dolphinarium deal itself. The Movement participated in a discussion at the State Comptroller’s committee in the wake of the State Comptroller’s report which exposed serious shortcomings in many local authorities, which illicitly transferred funds to private non-profit associations. Inter alia, this involves the municipalities of Nehariya, Tiberias, the Be’er Yaakov and Mateh Binyamin regional councils and others. In some cases, this involves non-profit organizations in which close associates or even family members of the mayors and heads of local councils or other senior members hold senior positions.