Unlike other western countries, such as the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and Spain, Israel does not have one main entity which concentrates the fight against political corruption, the Knesset`s Research and Information Center revealed during Monday`s meeting of the State Control Committee on the topic.
Committee Chairwoman MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said corruption in the public sector ”impairs the public`s trust in the state`s institutions,” and noted the absence of one main body that concentrates the fight against government corruption. ”This is an infectious disease, and if we do not act to eradicate it – thoroughly, not by putting out fires – then the country`s situation will deteriorate.”
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said his office is currently investigating cases of alleged political corruption, while MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) argued that Israel lacks a systematic plan to eradicate corruption.
Committee Chairwoman MK Karin Elharrar and State Comptroller Joseph Shapira
”Wherever there is money and power, there are corrupt public servants, and even police officers who are convicted criminals [stay on the force]. This creates a sense of hopelessness among the public with regards to the state and its institutions,” she said.
MK Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid) lauded the state comptroller`s efforts to curtail public corruption, and MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Camp) complained of the ”lack of transparency on the part of government ministries” and the lack of ”deterrence.”
Neta Moshe of the Research and Information Center told the committee that in the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and Spain an external body deals with the fight against public corruption. ”Around the world, many resources are devoted to encourage the public and civil servants to report such corruption, and civil servants attend courses on identifying acts of corruption,” she noted.
Attorney Itai Apter of the Justice Ministry said the United Nations has praised the cooperation between the government ministries in Israel in the fight against public corruption, while Attorney Dan Eldad of the State Prosecutor`s Office said 60 cases of alleged public corruption are currently under investigation.
Criminologist Avi Davidovitch, former deputy commander of Israel Police`s Serious and International Crime Unit, said that only five percent of police officers who were convicted of ethical violations have been dismissed from the force.
The head of investigations at the Lahav 433 Unit said Israel Police invests a lot of resources to fight governmental corruption, including gathering intelligence, handling complaints and cooperating with the State Prosecutor`s Office, the Tax Authority, the Civil Service Commission and other authorities.