September 2015

September 2015 | Quality Report Headlines

MQG says “No” to Selling Israelis’ Pensions to the Chinese:  Following reports that a deal has been struck whereby control of “The Phoenix” insurance company will be sold to the Chinese firm Fuson, MQG turned to the Commissioner of Insurance calling on her to exercise her authority to safeguard the interests of the Israeli Public. In our opinion the danger in the deal is three-part. Firstly, the practice of having centers of control and selling them serves to reinforce the concentration of market forces in the area of pensions and savings in Israel. Secondly, the sale to a foreign concern of control over Israeli pension funds will interfere with the ability of the regulatory and enforcement authorities in Israel to safeguard the interests of the Israeli Public. And thirdly, the sale to a Chinese concern which is exposed to the Chinese market—whose norms of transparency according to reports are among the poorest in the world, and whose debt levels have increased markedly in recent years—is extremely dangerous. Instead of selling control to a Chinese firm, the center of control should be dismantled and the whole system of centers of control should be abolished. In the current system’s place, a public stock offering ought to be carried out, thereby returning to the public the control over its savings and pensions.

MQG Petitions the Supreme Court to Hold Another Discussion Regarding the Appointment of Minister Deri: Our new request was submitted after the rejection of our first petition against the appointment of Minster Deri on the grounds of his being a convicted criminal. The basis of the Movement’s petition centered on the seriousness of the crime of bribery and the destructive effect the service of an unrepentant criminal would have on the Government of Israel and the Civil Service. The position of the Movement is that the appointment of Deri is beyond the bounds of propriety. The Movement insists that the Court has essentially changed current law in a manner that has had the grave result of allowing a criminal convicted of bribery to serve as a senior minister.

Petition to the Supreme Court: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Conflict of Interest: This month the Movement petitioned the High Court against the Attorney General demanding that the Court force the him to formulate a decision and publish it, regarding the issue of whether or not Finance Minister Kahlon has any conflict of interest as a result if his close association with businessman Koby Maimon. The latter is ostensibly connected to the Isramco natural gas company. If there is a conflict of interest, the Attorney General must then define the restrictions limiting Kahlon in his dealing with the natural gas market. Before the elections Minister Kahlon promised explicitly that he would deal with the natural gas issue—one of the most critical and urgent issues facing the Government of Israel. Nevertheless, upon his appointment as Finance Minister Kahlon went back on his promise to the public. We demand that the Attorney General take a clear position as to whether or not Minister Kahlon is in a position of conflict of interest.

A Case of Suspected Bribery in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court: The Movement appealed to the Attorney General, to Minister Yuval Steinitz (who is serving as the chairman of the committee to appoint rabbinic judges), and to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to come to a decision as to whether or not to open a criminal investigation against Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil in advance of the assessment of his candidacy for being promoted to the Supreme Rabbinical Court. Our appeal stems from reports which exposed suspicions of a bribery case in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, a case in which several members of a panel of judges and the panel’s secretary are suspected of brokering a bribe, fraud, and obstruction of justice. The head of the panel in question is Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil.

Return the Whistle-blower Ephraim Ehrlich (Kremschnitt) to Police Duty: In anticipation of the appointment of Roni Alsheich to the position of National Police Chief, MQG congratulated him and called on him to reinstate the whistle-blower Assistant-Inspector Ephraim Ehrlich to Police duty. Ehrlich, who courageously exposed the grave failures of the Police in the Prinyan Affair (the affair that led to the dismissal of former Police Chief Moshe Karadi), has suffered for many years from failure to be promoted and “exile” to minor and junior positions. The Movement has supported him in his battle for many years. As a result of the Movement’s appeal to the Supreme Court, somewhat of a victory was achieved, and Ehrlich was promoted to the rank of Assistant-Inspector. Immediately thereafter, however, Ehrlich was assigned to a staff position in the Fire-fighting Authority, outside the Police Department. The Movement calls on the incoming Police Chief as well as on the Minister of National Security to return Ehrlich to his rightful status in the Police Department. In these times of crisis in the senior echelons of the Police Department as a result of the exposure of corruption within the Force, reinstating Ehrlich would certainly be a step in the right direction.

The Natural Gas Arrangement: Following the Movement’s appeal to the Supreme Court requesting a restraining order until a final ruling is issued, the State announced that it had no intention of requesting a Knesset debate regarding the Natural Gas Arrangement, or of requesting the Knesset to deal with the matter of transfer of antitrust authority, or of requesting the Knesset to make any decision on these issues. Likewise, any decision to request a Kenesset debate will be delayed until after the Supreme Court has made a ruling with regard to the interim restraining order. Our Court appeal was lodged after last month’s approval of the Natural Gas Arrangement by the full Kenesset—even though said approval was merely declarative without having any practical implications regarding the Arrangement. In addition, in light of reports that the Prime Minister met recently with senior officials the Noble Energy natural gas company—as well as having met a number of times over recent years with owners and high officials of Delek and Noble Energy, the Movement appealed to the Head of Freedom of Information in the Prime Minister’s Office to release all documents pertaining to these meetings.

The Passing of Supreme Cout Justice Mishael Cheshin: The Movement for Quality Government expresses deep sorrow on the passing of Honorable Justice Mishael Cheshin, Associate to the President of the Supreme Court, recipient of the Knight of Quality Government award for 2007, and subsequent chairman of the public committee to select winners of the Knight of Quality Government award. Cheshin was aged 79 at his death. There is no better term to describe Justice Cheshin than “A Pursuer of Peace”. As he left us, this great judge, known as Israel’s “Poet of the Legal World”, bequeathed to us an important legacy summed up by the clear and penetrating words he wrote for the ceremony awarding the Movement’s “Knights of Quality Government“ prizes:

“The principles and values which the Supreme Court launched and established during its 57, almost 58, years: Continue to cling to them vigorously! Do not allow them to slip from your hands: individual rights, the rule of law, the separation of powers, the decentralization of authority. Truth—embrace it fully. Accept it into your hearts. Do not relinquish even the smallest bit of it. For truth cannot be halved or quartered. The independent status we have achieved—hold on to it with all your strength. Do not abandon it. Do not retreat, even for an instant.”

The Suspected Conflict of Interest in the Appointment of an Associate of Minister (of Education) Bennet to the Position of Director of a Campaign for the Ministry of Education: Following an investigative report on Channel 10 News regarding the appointment of an alleged associate of Minister of Education Naftali Bennet, Moshe Klughaft, to the position of the Director of a Flagship Campaign of the Ministry of Education, the Movement appealed to the Minister of Education to reconsider his decision to appoint Klughaft, and to the Attorney General to investigate the running of the Education Ministry. From the report it emerges apparently that despite Klughaft being an “advisor and friend of Minister Bennet”, he was never the less selected for the position—with the knowledge and approval of the Minister. Considering the close relationship between Minister Bennet and Mr. Klughaft, the suspicion arises, even if only in appearance, that there was an ostensible conflict of interest with regard to the appointment.

Who Approved the Entrance of a Luxury Car into the Western Wall Courtyard? According to reports, during Selihot prayer services—when tens of thousands of worshippers and sightseers visited the Wall, most having to park in lots far away from the Wall—the Police permitted the entrance of a Corvette luxury sports car into the Wall courtyard itself. The car parked in an area reserved for vehicles with special entry permits only, apparently without having obtained the appropriate prior approval. According to the response of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation as quoted in the press, the vehicle in question was unauthorized and had not received permission to park as is required by law. If this is true, we suspect that this is a case where senior members of the Police Force closed their eyes to what was happening. The Movement appealed to the Government Ombudsman to carry out an investigation of this incident.