November 2017

November 2017 | Quality Report Headlines

MQG Activities Summary – November 2017

Petition against the “Recommendations Law” legislation procedure

The Movement acts in several directions against the Recommendations Law – the law that limits the police’s capacity at the stage of summing up its investigations’ finds.

This bill harms the enforcement authorities and threatens the Rule of Law and the freedom of the press. Timing the bill concurrently with the Prime Minister’s investigation makes the impression of its being apparently a personal bill motivated by inappropriate considerations, preferring the PM’s private interest instead of the public’s and aims at the advancement of criminal procedures against senior civil servants who are suspected of serious corruption offences. Bills of this kind present the Knesset as the Occasional Majority’s play-ground and bend the democratic play rules to this majority’s private aspirations. It is about harming the police, the law enforcement system and the Rule of Law, the equality before the law, the Knesset’s status and the struggle against corruption. In addition, it seems there was a try to advance the bill urgently – against the Knesset’s regulations. MK Amsalem managed to manipulate the discussions concerning this law so, that they took place at the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee of which he is chairman instead of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee where, according to the regulations, these discussions should be carried out. Consequently, already at this stage the Movement had petitioned against the procedure.

Other acts against the Recommendations Law

The Movement addressed the Knesset’s Attorney General in demand to prohibit the PM Binyamin Netanyahu, the Coalition chairman David Bitan and the Minister of Welfare Haim Katz, from participating in voting on the law since they have been currently under interrogations, a situation which is definitely one of conflict of interests. After the Attorney General had announced that the PM and the Minister of Welfare will not participate, the Movement appealed once more for prohibiting MK Bitan’s participation. Additionally, the Movement submitted to the Committee members a statement detailing the many problems comprised in this bill and requested them to oppose the proposed law. To the Opposition members the Movement called to participate in the voting in order to oppose the law and to refer from “offsets”. Alongside the legal act, the Movement has initiated a vast public campaign against the law: street-demonstrations, petition signing (signed by tens of thousands within a few days) and social-networking the issue.

No to withdrawing from Sheshinski Law

The Movement submitted to the Ministry of Finance remarks on a memo concerning the law of taxing profits obtained from nature resources. The remarks oppose the implementation of the suggested changes due to their anticipated harm to the Sheshinski model that regulates comprehensively the fiscal aspects of nature resources. Its recommendations made valid by legislation in 2011, Sheshinski Committee assumed that taxing nature resources was a complex issue that called for special prowess and that it is an issue constantly subjected to intensive manipulations in order to minimize payments to the state fund. Hence, in order to establish certainty, a taxing model was determined according to which a special surcharge will be applied to excessive profits obtained from nature resources. However, the suggested law memo wishes to change instructions in the legislation that anchored the Sheshinski model, with no attention to the comprehensive regulation it creates and without any serious enough checking of this model’s dramatic economic implications. Changing only certain indications of the model will affect its system of incentives and commitments in such a way that might cause one side – the gas companies – to benefit, while the public will lose once again.

The movement submitted to the Ministry of Finance a professional document detailing all the problems comprised in the suggested amendment.

A call to initiate investigation following the feature “The Political Corruption Industry of Danny Danon”

The movement addressed the Attorney General of Israel, the police Inspector General and the Registrar of NGOs following Amit Segal’s feature in Channel 2 news. The Attorney General and the Inspector General are called to commence a criminal investigation in the suspicion of integrity offenses, accepting a thing by deceit and violating the election’s financing laws. Simultaneously the Movement addressed the Civil Service Commissioner and the Registrar of NGOs in demand to implement an inspection: “A situation in which an NGO is being used for transferring tens of millions shekels of public money for enhancing the private political needs of a public servant should turn on many red lights and initiate an investigation and its rapid advance”. Segal’s feature related mainly to the array allegedly constructed by Danon in order to “sew jobs” and to distribute payments to tens of Likud activists who act for his sake, and to their close associates – all out of the public cash register, covered as Zionist activity and through an NGO serving as a “whitening” factor. According to the feature, Mr. Danon acted in order to construct a lubricated apparatus all for the sake of his own political needs. For this end he allegedly had taken care already in 2011 that his close associate Mr. Ya’akov Hagu’el be appointed to head “Etz – Ossim Tzionut, Tzameret” (= “Tree – Doing Zionism, Treetop”) NGO.

No to harming the Class Actions

The Movement addressed the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee members in demand to refrain from harming the Class Actions. The public was requested to address this committee as well through the social networks. In addition, the Movement submitted to the committee a detailed statement, explaining the problematic aspects of the suggested amendments. According to the Movement, it should be decided that “the one who is right – will not pay“. Due to the vast public contribution of the Class Actions procedure, it is inappropriate to implement the fee before starting the procedure and so leave outside also proper lawsuits and make it difficult for the public to defend itself. The fee should be implemented only at the procedure’s conclusion and after checking the lawsuit’s justification and contribution. Only connecting between paying the fee and the procedure’s consequences will produce the desired results.

Will the electricity sector open to competition at last? The Movement asked to join as “Friend of the Court” to a related petition

A historical decision lies ahead of us – whether the electrical sector stays a monopoly or will open to competition. This issue is of direct impact on the public’s electricity expenses. For over 20 years now the state has failed to pass a reform designated to open the electrical sector to competition because the Electric Company workers union, together with the Histadrut, have been preventing the reform’s implementation. Obviously the workers committee has every right of expressing its claims regarding the workers’ wellbeing, but in no way can it be the factor who determines the nature of the electricity sector – certainly not when the public is the side that pays. The Movement wishes to take part in the legal proceedings between the state and the union in order to express the public interest and to present to the High Court another point of view by which the state has abandoned its authority of ruling and executing and hence, for the sake of enhancing true competition in the electricity sector, it is better that the state acts for defending the public’s interest, preferring it to the Electric Company’s interest which is to preserve its monopolistic status.

The Movement demands of the Ministry of Communication to expose the opinion concerning Bezeq and Yes’s merge

The Ministry of Communication contacted with Adalya, an economic consulting company, in order to receive an economical opinion concerning the possibility of merging Bezeq and Yes companies. This happened due to the absence of a designated economist from the Cable and Satellite Council whose consultation, according to the law, should have been given to the Ministry of Communication prior to confirming the deal. According to publications, 5 days after contacting with Adalya there took place an unusual meeting of the company and the Cable and Satellite Council. At this meeting Adalya provided an economical opinion relating to the merge, while generally preparing such a document deserves a longer time than five days. This opinion concluded that the merge could be unconditionally affirmed, without Adalya’s people meeting the Ministry of Communication professionals who opposed the merge from the outset. Considering this situation, the Movement asks of the Ministry of Communication to receive Adalya’s full opinion concerning Bezeq and Yes merge, including all attachments, the meeting protocol and names of the people who were present there.

Following Stas Misejnikov affair: it’s about time to put a limit to Plea Bargains

It is for many years now that the Movement has been striving to change the State Prosecutor’s instructions for the sake of limiting “plea bargains” applied in legal cases of senior public figures. The public interest to apply the law entirely is first and foremost in cases of corrupted public figures. However now, in the case of former Minister of Tourism Stas Misejnikov, we once again witness the phenomenon of the facilitating plea bargains. According to publications, within his plea bargain Misejnikov will admit the indictment’s facts and will be sentenced to an agreed punishment of 15 months in jail and ILS 70,000 fine. The same publications inform that due to the bargain, the severe charge of taking bribe which was related to Misejnikov at the beginning was replaced by the easier charge of cheating and breach of trust. In addition, other charges were removed from the indictment, those concerning his allegedly use of the dangerous drug cocaine while still functioning as a minister in the Israeli government.

Is the drilling license of “Delek Drilling” and Noble Energy is being extended against the law?

Delek Drilling and Noble Energy are holding the drilling license for Alon D, located in the northern economic waters of Israel. According to the Petroleum Law instructions, the license had been valid for strict seven years without reservations and with no legal way to prolong it. So, Alon D’s license had expired. According to these partner companies, in February 2016 they received a notice concerning the expiration from Mr. Yossi Wurzburger, Petroleum Commissioner in the Ministry of Energy. To this, the partner companies filed an appeal to the Minister of Energy, who (in spite of the Commissioner’s notice being valid and independent of the Minister’s opinion) discussed it and decided to extend the license to additional 32 months. As the Minister of Energy has got no legal authority to decide on such an issue and in doing so he exceeded his ministerial authority, the Movement addressed him and the Attorney General of Israel in demand to cancel this decision. In addition, the Movement addressed the Ministry of Infrastructure in demand to receive all of the information and documentation concerning the license’s extension.

Other Activities

Why, in spite of the law, no Urban Renewal Authority is being established?

According to the media it has been known that after more than a year from the legislation of the Urban Renewal Government Authority Law that was about establishing such an authority, this authority has not yet been established nor has any director been appointed to such a body. The Movement addressed the Minister of Construction and Housing concerning the issue. Exemption from Tender Lands: from 2010 on, no surveys whatsoever have been executed in such lands in spite of a High Court verdict that obliges supervising them. Following this, the Movement addressed the Freedom of Information Law commissioner at the Israel Land Authority, Einat Edri, in demand to receive information and documents concerning the supervision of lands allocated for industrial purposes through a proceeding of exemption from tender. A call to the Second Authority for Television and Radio to carry out a discussion and to set rules with regards to providing a platform to criminally convicted persons and to fix an ethical code for the concessionaires’ conduct: Time and again we watch how people who were criminally convicted turn into media stars; this time Eyal Golan, who was convicted of severe tax offenses, returned to a prime-time show. The Movement claims, that the Second Authority should discuss this issue and decide, as part of an ethical code for the broadcasting concessionaires’ conduct, on rules for hosting criminally convicted persons on shows.

The Movement’s recent activity regarding municipal issues

Dozens of percent of the Movement’s activity is being directed toward municipal issues. Though these struggles make no headlines, the municipal field is where a lot of the corruption cases take place since a great part of the public money lies there. Following is one example out of the innumerable activities executed by the Movement each and every day: the Movement appealed to the high court in demand to implement the elections to the local council of Tel Mond at due time. In September 2016 an appointed committee was nominated for Tel Mond local council. This step was taken due to hardships in administering the council, following which an investigation committee was appointed. The committee recommended the dismissal of the local council’s head and members and the nomination of an appointed committee. In March 2017 the members and the head of the appointed committee resigned from their positions. Since May 2017 the former (and dismissed) local council members had been addressing the Minister of Interior in requests not to nominate another appointed committee but to enable elections. Eventually these requests were rejected, and decisions were taken to enable elections only in 2023 and to have another appointed committee for six years consecutively. The Movement regards Tel Mond as a functioning and balanced local council; it is a unique case since the special circumstances by which the Minister of Interior can prevent elections on time do not exist.