Shapira takes oath of office as new state comptroller

“I will fight fearlessly against corruption,” Shapira says in his first speech as comptroller.

July 4, 2012 16:49
2 minute read.
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Judge Joseph Shapira took his oath of office as the new state comptroller in the Knesset on Wednesday, replacing Judge Micha Lindenstrauss.

President Shimon Peres and former comptroller Judge Miriam Ben-Porat attended the ceremony, which was postponed from Monday due to former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir’s funeral. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not attend the plenum meeting, despite being listed as a speaker.

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“I will fight fearlessly against corruption,” Shapira said in his first speech as comptroller.

The former Jerusalem District Court judge said he sees a phenomenon of politicians avoiding decisions for fear of criticism, which must be prevented, because it is the executive branch of government’s job to act.

As comptroller, Shapira said, he must look for the truth and closely analyze every incident.

“Due to the great power comptrollers are given, we must behave modestly,” he stated. “Sharp, decisive criticism does not contradict fairness.”

In what can be seen as a dig at his predecessor, Shapira said that “criticism that has a strong echo that then disappears goes against the goals of this job. The mistakes [pointed out by comptrollers] must be fixed.”

Shapira called for the Knesset to cooperate with his office, and asked for citizens to submit their complaints.

The new comptroller ended his speech in Arabic, saying that Arab citizens should turn to his office whenever they feel injustice, and that he hopes for peace and cooperation in the region and within Israel.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) interrupted Shapira’s words in Arabic, shouting “why not in Russian?” to which Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin responded that Russian is not one of Israel’s official languages.

Before Shapira’s speech, Rivlin welcomed the new comptroller, calling his oath a “celebratory event.”

“Learning lessons from the past is a requirement and a privilege,” Rivlin said. “This is a legal and moral requirement anchored in our Jewish and democratic values.”

Rivlin said that criticism “in real time” and fixing government failures are the comptroller’s central jobs, and no ministry or other body can challenge his authority in this matter.

Knesset State Control committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) told Shapira he is entering one of the most important jobs in Israel, in which he can save lives.

Ariel, who is a kohen, concluded his speech by blessing Shapira with the Priestly Blessing.

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