המצע שלנו

Fight Corruption

THE “YESH ATID” PLAN TO FIGHT PUBLIC CORRUPTION

 

IN BRIEF

A) Legislation package relating to investigations and convictions of public officials  

1) A person who has been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude will never be able to stand for any public office

2)The recommendations of the Shamgar Commission regarding government ethics must be adopted and applied this to all holding public office.

3) An elected official is prohibited from remaining silent during an investigation into their behavior.

4) Heavy minimum sentences will be introduced to the Penal Code for public officials and public employees who have committed offenses of corruption.

 

B) Expanding the definition of breach of trust

The definition will include: acts of government performed with conflicts of interest; receiving benefits; public fraud and deliberate deception of a public official or concealing information from them to affect their judgment and decisions; improper use of inside information in order to advance a personal interest; action or failure to act contrary to the public interest.

 

C) Increasing transparency of government

1) Cancellation of "coalition funds."  

2) Formulation and implementation of procedures that require full transparency for all transfers of government funds.  Prohibition of the transfer of government funds to non-regulated and non-transparent groups.

3) Regulation of activity of lobbyists in the Knesset and the government

4) Limiting the scope of permissible activities of lobbyists, and preventing their entry to government offices.

5) Expansion of disclosure obligations imposed on lobbyists and members of the Knesset in connection with them.

6) Prohibiting the use of lobbyists on communal bodies.


 

D) Increasing use of public tenders for jobs and government purchasing, including senior posts, to ensure equal opportunities, even for senior

E) Establishment of a corruption prevention unit both administrative and structural

F) Strengthening the protection of whistleblowers.


 

THE BACKGROUND

Corruption has become a strategic threat to Israeli society and democracy.  It places political both personal and economic interests ahead of the needs of the public.  It is also reducing the public’s confidence in government institutions and the democratic system.  Public corruption eats away at equal opportunity and contradicts the loyalties and duties of elected officials and public servants. It undermines social cohesion, and hurts the quality of life of the citizens of the state and economic growth.

Our country needs to belong to the middle class and those struggling to be part of it and not ruled by corrupt politicians who busy themselves for their own benefit, for those with interests, the big corporations or big unions. For years there has been foul play in Israel serving interest groups, wealthy people and workers' committees. In this game billions of shekels have been transferred without transparency and without supervision. Politicians received empty and wasteful positions of honor such as the absurd role called "Minister without Portfolio" just to be placated with a driver and office. Shady businessmen were appointed to direct government companies not because of skill, but only because of the connections.

These people were given priority in the distribution of the resources of society and they considered self-interests over the good of the public. This is not just public corruption but also moral corruption which came at the expense of the collapsing Israeli middle class, and at the expense of the needy that fight not only poverty, but also a feeling that no one cares. The silent majority, working and serving in the army and paying taxes, who feel that the state is slipping though their fingers, are not willing to accept corrupt behaviour which was seen as acceptable in the past.  As a party committed to the fight against government and public corruption, we see a duty in maintaining public trust in the governmental and public sector. The only way to ensure public confidence is to maintain the integrity and the rule of law, and the removal of those who have transgressed from the public world.

The struggle against public corruption must be multi-systemic, all across the government, in order to: address the symptoms of corruption, but especially the roots; reshape the rules of the game through legal restrictions and clear rules; detect structural cracks through which corruption permeates government tenders; set, through legislation, the restrictions imposed on a public official who has been investigated, charged with or convicted of a crime; increase the transparency of government systems, brake necessary because of corruption, conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds.

 

"Yesh Atid", is committed to integrity, the rule of law, fairness and an uncompromising struggle against systematic government corruption. This exercising of our plan for a battle against government corruption, which was formed with the assistance of the Israel Democracy Institute, will be the fundamental condition for joining any government coalition.

"Yesh Atid” candidates to the Knesset, government institutions and any other public roles will not be tainted since we see government positions as a mission. We do not support the candidacy for public office of those who do not possess personal integrity. We will publically condemn manifestations and effects of corruption - whether it is criminal or whether it violates public-moral norms. These manifestations and symptoms tarnish the name of all public servants in Israel, the vast majority of who are impeccably honest.

 

Legislation limits to be put on public officials being investigated, accused and convicted

The absence of clear rules regarding legal restrictions on public officials involved in a criminal investigation, those indicted or convicted, leaves space for a wide discretionary range. The growing frequency of corruption in the public arena, requires the locking of doors in public space to those who have been convicted in the past.

Therefore, we will pass legislation that a person who has been convicted in a final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude will never be able to stand for any public office, whether as an elected official or professional appointment to a senior position in a government office, regardless of the time period elapsed since the conviction.

We will adopt the recommendations of the public committee, headed by retired President of the Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar, regarding the formulation of rules of ethics for members of the government and extending them to members of Knesset, mayors and all other public officers. These rules will serve as an anchor to the normative framework of behavior of members of the government in the area of ethics. According to these guidelines, in the event that legal authorities attribute serious criminal acts to a member of government through an official statement by those authorized to issue an indictment, that person will be required to suspend himself or resign. In the event that a member of the government chooses not to do so, the case will be submitted to the Prime Minister to examine the suspension or their removal from office. The rules also state a ban on a government member who police are investigating on suspicion of committing a crime to refrain from answering the questions to the investigator.

We will work to strengthen deterrence by adding a special chapter in the Penal Code dealing with charges of corruption. That chapter will include the duty of declaring heavy minimum sentences against public servants who have transgressed.




 

Definition of the offense of breach of trust in legislation

 

The offense of breach of trust has yet to receive meaningful limits set in legislation. President of the Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak, defined actions that breach trust "eroding the bonds that bind us as one company, and violate the trust of an individual in particular, and the individual power. They encourage contempt for authorities and public servants. They cultivate cynicism towards authorities’ administration and the existing social order. They undermine the confidence of the individual functioning in the whole, and thus undermine social stability ".

The lack of an explicit definition for the offense has left a grey area which is often used by corrupt politicians who rely on the absence of the description of criminal acts and the public and ethical issues arising from their actions are ignored.

We will define, in legislation, the offense of breach of trust, which will include governmental actions performed with conflicts of interest; receiving benefits; public fraud and deliberate deception of a public official or concealing information from them to affect his judgment and decisions; improper use of inside information in order to advance a personal interest; action or failure to act, contrary to the public interest.

 

Increased transparency of government

Transparency of the actions of authority at all levels is a necessary buffer against corruption, conflicts of interest and misuse of public resources and government money. Transparency is also an essential precondition to public confidence in the integrity of the government. Once all information is presented in an accessible, clear manner and is more available, the greater the efficiency of public supervision and control of the government.

A basic condition to realize the principle of transparency is proactive disclosure and exposure to information held by government authorities subject to limited protection of the rights and other values, such as rights of privacy and security interests of the country. Transparency is not limited solely to providing information pursuant to a request, but the organization and accessibility of government information so as to enable public access to the information, its understanding, and ability to be used by other sectors of society.

 

Increasing use of public tenders for jobs and government purchasing

Transparency in the process of appointment of public administration positions ensures equality of opportunity in the competing for jobs. We will establish a Basic Law of public service, which will define the rules of public administration requiring any public servant to put the trust of the public before himself in every decision. The law will ensure the preference of skills over relationships when appointing someone to a senior position in the public service.

Transparency in the purchasing process is an effective tool in preventing corruption. In recent years, the exemption from the obligation to tender resulted in approximately 85% of the engagements of government being carried out in the absence of a tender, thus avoiding an equal right to equal opportunity on government contracts. These should stand at the disposal of every citizen and involve wise use of taxpayer funds. We will bring a re-examination of the exemption process, change the existing list of mandatory tenders regulations, and reduce the number of exceptions to only in a few cases.

 

Funds for transparent funds instead of coalition money

 

Budgetary funds allocated to the recipient directly for political support are fertile ground for corrupt behaviour. Lack of transparency, broad discretion and non-supervision, increases the potential for corruption inherent in these types of budgetary transfers. We must adopt procedures that require full transparency and allocation by regular, transparent criteria including tests of support and legal approval. Deviation from them will only be possible in special cases approved for legal reasons with a conflict of interest declared and with a justification for the deviation. As part of the criteria we will not permit the transfer funds to non-regulated and non-transparent recipients. It will also be prohibited for the Ministry of Finance to agree to give specific institutions budgetary transfers in exchange for approval of a state budget or to promote an initiative of the Ministry of Finance in Knesset committees.

 

Regulating the activities of lobbyists in the Knesset and in the government

We will increase the enforcement and severity of the rules in the field of lobbying, which gives the financiers direct access to decision makers and enables a big impact by a small group of people. We will limit the scope of permissible activities of lobbyists, who are engaged in convincing Knesset members in matters of legislation and decisions of the Knesset, and will prevent them from entering government offices. We will expand the duty of fair disclosure and lobbyists will be required to specify the particular interest for which they work and not just the identity of their customers.

Public bodies will be prohibited from using lobbyists to receive public funds. There will be amplified supervision, enforcement and punishment when it comes to law and rules violated by registered and un-registered lobbyists. We will demand transparency from MKs to declare all ties they have with lobbyists and representatives of other interests and any information or document that they received as part of legislative process and helped them consolidate their position which they voted for, with an emphasis on drafts of bills which are formulated for them by these outside bodies. Knesset members will be required to specify the identity of their contacts and the part they played in the legislative process. Obligations imposed on the members of the Knesset will be anchored by decisions in the Knesset Ethics Committee. The Knesset secretariat will be required to post an entry permit process for the Knesset lobbyist, whether regular or temporary, along with the schedule of their lobbyist meetings.

Establishment of administrative and structural corruption prevention unit

A task force will be established which will formulate both administrative and structural conclusions arising from exposed corruption scandals. We will examine problematic working patterns which may encourage the appearance of corruption and ways to streamline government action and increase transparency.

After the publication of a judgment relating to corrupt behavior, severe deficiencies in the field of ethics or corruption in the government office or Knesset, or following the publication of critical reviews of the Attorney General, in the case in which he announces the closure of the case due the absence of sufficient evidence but finds it necessary to draw criticism of the suspects, recommendations for structural changes to prevent recurrence of corruption will be transferred to the Minister in charge of implementation, the state comptroller and the relevant Knesset committee will be made to monitor their implementation. In cases where a criminal investigation ends with the closing of the investigation in the absence of sufficient evidence, a critical look at the conduct of public officials or public servants will serve as a basis for conclusions of administrative control.

 

Strengthening the protection of whistleblowers

 

Whistleblowers will enjoy confidentiality and institutional protection by the internal auditor of the relevant ministry. If their exposing corruption causes them damage, they can receive compensation from a fund earmarked for this, administered by the state comptroller.  

In the case where labour relations do not allow the employee's return to his position as provided by the protection of whistle-blowers, or in which the employee does not want to go back to work, the employee could fill another position in the public service, in a corresponding position that suits their talents. Whoever exposes the name of a public official who exposed corruption or who harasses a public servant who exposed corruption in good faith, including the commissioner of the employee, will be exposed to administrative sanctions, including dismissal.

 

Enhancing the role of gatekeepers in public bodies and local authorities

Enhancing the role of legal counsel, internal auditors and accountants of government departments, public bodies and local authorities will increase the protection of the rules of proper management, and will increase the ability of the systems to prevent corruption that have not yet occurred and serve as a helpful preventive aspect of public corruption.