September-October 2022

Summary of September-October 2022 Activity

Thanks to the Movement’s activity: The debts of the Parties to the Public have been revealed

Political parties borrow money from the state treasury – and are supposed to return it after the elections from their regular financing in the Knesset. However, what would be the case when a certain party fails to pass the blocking percentage (as happened to not a few parties over the last years)? Following requests under the Freedom of Information Law that we submitted to the Knesset revealed that there had been all kinds of “debt arrangements” between the State and the parties; in certain cases parties were simply exempted from paying back millions of shekels of public money. In the current elections also it is obvious that several parties will not pass the blocking percentage and so it is relevant to wonder what will be done about the money they had received. We will continue following this issue that already had been discussed by us in media interviews – all in order to make the Public aware of it.

We submitted to the Election Committee a formal request to disgrace Deri

We submitted to the chairman of the Election Committee a formal request to determine according to his lawful authority that Aryeh Deri, who is running at the head of Shas party, should be disgraced. Deri was (again!) criminally convicted, his verdict given last February. In two different cases he was convicted of severe tax offenses and was sentenced to 12 months of probation and an ILS180,000 fine, or a year in prison instead. According to the plea bargain signed with him, Deri would not be disgraced by the Court if he resigned from the Knesset. Though Deri indeed resigned (and so evaded disgrace), we appealed to the Supreme Court and warned of the results. Now, after a little over six months, Deri has returned to political life at the head of Shas list to the Knesset and declares his intention to be appointed a minister in the government. Due to our appeal to the Election Committee, its chairman clarified that Aryeh Deri is potentially disgraced and therefore should not be appointed minister as long as this disgrace issue is not fully discussed.

Thanks to our petition the Supreme Court obliged Knesset Member Netanyahu to repay $270,000 given to him as a gift by his cousin Natan Milikovsky for financing Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu’s legal expenditures during Netanyahu’s serving as Prime Minister. The verdict was given, justly and lawfully, following our petition to the Supreme Court regarding this subject. KM Netanyahu should better obey the verdict and return ASAP the money he received without a permit and against the law. We remind KM Netanyahu that in case he is unable to fund his legal defense he can always turn to the Public Defense that provides legal representation to any citizen who lacks financial means to do so.

We petitioned: Halikud and Silman ignore the Law

Upon formally submitting to the Knesset the lists of parties, including the Likud in which Knesset Member Silman had been armored, we petitioned the Central Election Committee. In the last Knesset KM Silman served as the coalition chairwoman until her resignation from the coalition last April. Only in the last days prior to submitting the lists she remembered to resign also from the Knesset. According to the media, her armoring in the Likud had been summed up in an agreement and also by a declaration of guarantees given by other factors – all prior to her withdrawal from the coalition. Section 57a of the Election Law specifically forbids armoring any party’s Knesset member in another party if not within 90 days before elections day. In addition to this petition to the Election Commission, we demanded also from the Attorney General to initiate an investigation due to the suspicion of breaching the election laws.

More of the Movement’s activity approaching the elections: Fighting against forbidden propaganda and guarding the purity of elections

As in any other elections campaign also this time we keep fighting to maintain the purity of the elections and against forbidden propaganda and incitement, and do whatever we can in order to secure the implementation of the democratic process. During the campaign we had been fighting daily against false, inciting and forbidden propaganda. Once and again we petitioned against videos and propaganda materials that breached the laws – and we were winning: many times our petitions succeeded to remove forbidden materials from the internet. In addition, we published a detailed guide in order to direct the parties how to set up lawful and proper election propaganda and also to warn them that our follow-up is constant and any breach of the laws will be answered by our petitioning. Here are some examples to this activity: we demanded from “The 90th Minute” company to remove a campaign that contained encouragement to vote for certain candidates; the campaign had been removed. We explained to Prime Minister Lapid that his suggestions of armors for members of the Avoda and Meretz parties are illegal; we demanded from him to stop suggesting so. We demanded from the Minister of Justice to act against the Rabbi of the city of Tsfat, who is a civil servant. According to the media the Rabbi, through an official letter of the city Rabbinate, asked the site of “Channel Seven” to favor Hatsiyonut Hadatit party and to disapprove Habayit Hayehudi in the channel’s coverage. We demanded from Benni Gantz, Hamakhaneh Hamamlakhti‘s candidate, and from Itamar Ben-Gvir, candidate of Hatsiyonut Hadatit, to remove publications that made use of pictures of IDF soldiers counter to the election laws. We were out on the streets for encouraging citizens to take part in the democratic play by voting.

It is unacceptable that the prices of inflation will be paid only by the Public while the banks make huge profits – these profits must be taxed!

We explained to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Finance that this taxing is inevitable. We also made them aware of procedures implemented in Europe toward imposing “inflation tax” on banks (and on energy companies) in order to fight against the cost of living. In the Movement’s view, and similar to other countries, temporarily taxing of the banks’ “excessive profits” that resulted from the current inflation crisis may help reducing the cost of living. In addition we sent an urgent request to the Knesset Chairman and to the members of the Agreements Committee to approve a discussion of this issue in the Finance Committee.

A significant step toward stopping Akirov from assuming control of the Public pensions: The Committee for the Reduction of Centralization blocks Akirov from purchasing the control in Clal insurance Company!

The Committee decided to deny Akirov the option of controlling Clal, also personally. This decision is an important achievement for us: it is for many months now that the Movement has been waging a persistent struggle on this issue. Thanks to our fierce pressure on deferent regulatory factors we have advanced by one more step toward stopping Alfred Akirov’s takeover of Clal and of the pension money of us all.

We petitioned the Supreme Court against Kvish 6 widening project under tendering exemption

An agreement signed between the State and Derekh Eretz Company (current franchisee of Kvish 6/Highway 6) stated that the Company will widen the highway in return to extending its franchise for 3 more years. This decision had been taken without implementing a new tendering process and so it was against the law. Due to our petition, the Supreme Court ordered the government to hold the process of extending the franchise until this issue is clarified.

What about Knaf Tzion airplane? It should either be used or sold

Once again we requested Prime Minister Lapid to decide about the future of Knaf Tzion – the airplane intended to serve the heads of state – whether to use or to sell it. We just remind that the project’s overall cost has reached by now, according to different evaluations, the sum of one billion shekels! Given that for the time being the decision is not to operate the airplane, the Public pays twice as much: for the project, for storing the aircraft, for its maintenance and also for hiring airplanes and alternative solutions for transporting the heads of state. This wasting of public money should be stopped! It’s time to decide.

The legal platform of Hatsiyonut Hadatit party: Declaration of war against Integrity and the Rule of the Law in Israel 

In a press conference of Hatsiyonut Hadatit party, Knesset Members Smotrich and Rotman presented the party’s legal platform following which we published on the internet our attitude towards this dangerous policy. It is about a fundamental undermining of the Israeli legal system and even more critical – of the democratic core values of the State of Israel. It is about one concentrated move that eventually will seriously harm the independence of the gatekeepers, will weaken the Supreme Court and will reduce the power of the law enforcement authorities. It will be mainly an aimed shot at the capacity to act and to deter regarding the fight against governmental corruption in the State of Israel. No wonder that what tops this horror list is the issue of cancelling the offenses of fraud and breaching of trust. This platform is an actual declaration of war on the integrity and the rule of law in Israel.

The Annual Quality of Government Day

Shortly before the elections, our conference enabled us a splendid opportunity to hear PM Lapid, Minister of Defense Gantz, Minister Michaeli, Knesset Member Smotrich, Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal’on and KM Simkha Rotman. We were glad to host also the former Supreme Court Deputy President, (retired) Judge Khanan Meltzer. During the day we held four especially fascinating panels discussing a range of issues: the cost of living, constitution for Israel, rectifying the system of government, and social networks as means of incitement. Prominent persons of the law, media, academics and other disciplines participated in the panels and we wish to thank them all. We thank also the Movement’s members and the audience – in situ and on-line – who shared our day of celebration. The event can be watched on You-Tube and Facebook, no registration needed.

A bit of our recent municipal activity

Haifa: We petitioned the Supreme Court in demand to start a criminal investigation against the Mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem. * Beitar Illit: We called on the State Attorney Office to execute a completion of investigation before making a decision to close the case concerning the heavy suspicion of a bribery deal in Beitar Ellit Municipality. * Hadera: We requested the Court to let us join, as “Friends of the Court”, the procedure against Mayor Tsvi Gendelman in demand to  continue his suspension.

 More from the Movement’s desk

Following media reports concerning payments of Halikud party (headed by Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu) to a survey company owned by Shlomo Filber, a State Witness in the ongoing trial of Netanyahu: we requested the Government’s Attorney General, the State Attorney and the Deputy State Attorney for Economic Enforcement to initiate an investigation in order to understand whether Filber breached the State Witness agreement signed with him. * We called on Michal Cohen, the Commissioner of the Competition Authority, to declare the four major gas companies – Paz, Delek, Sonol and Dor Alon – a concentration group. This move is within the Commissioner’s authority according to the Economic Competition Law. * Following media report concerning Adv. Effi Naveh’s conviction of the offenses of unlawfully exiting and entering Israel and of receiving anything fraudulently: we demanded the Israel Bar Association to submit a complaint to IBA’s disciplinary court and to suspend Naveh from membership in the Association. * We demanded from Ashdod Port’s CEO and from its legal counsel to examine the published claims according to which the Port (that is financed by public money) paid fines of an employee who is a senior in the Port’s Workers Committee. * According to Kan News debriefing, the Ministry of Health intends to grant an award of excellence to Yaniv Fogel, deputy director of Wolfson Hospital, in spite of the fact that he was allegedly involved in issues suspected of criminality (as per a report of the Accountant General at the Ministry of Finance). We demanded from the Ministry of Health to publish promptly this report of the Accountant General as well as the committee’s protocols and the reasons for granting Fogel the award. * We called on the Capital Market, Insurance and Savings Authority to use their power as regulators and deny Shlomo Eliyahu the control permit of Migdal Insurance Company. Migdal has been managing hundreds of billions of shekels of the Public’s money while during the last decade Eliahu’s conduct has been a threat to the Company’s proper functioning and its stability. In fact, since acquiring control of the company in 2012 (in a move that raised suspicion of inappropriate capital-governance relations) Eliyahu had replaced 9 CEOs and Chairpersons of Clal.