Lindenstrauss may investigate Netanyahu’s transition team

Opponents of planning reform bill welcome probe into possible conflicts of interest among team members

May 26, 2010 13:10
2 minute read.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

Micha Lindenstrauss 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced Tuesday that he may probe the members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “100 days” transition team for instances of conflict of interest.

Lindenstrauss told members of the Knesset’s State Control Committee that he was highly likely to probe the process that led to the drafting of the highly controversial Building and Planning Bill that is currently being debated in a Knesset joint committee.

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The State Control Committee, chaired by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), met hours before the first working session of the joint committee in order to ask for Lindenstrauss’s opinion on the involvement of Netanyahu’s personal attorney – Dan Shamron – in drafting the reform bill. Shamron was a member of the transition team in which the reform was first considered.

Neither Netanyahu nor Shamron was present during the hearing.

Presenting the government’s case was Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said that “Shamron did not even want to be part of the team, and initially refused, but it was logical that for the reform, I would bring in an adviser who specialized in the field.”

MK Yohanan Plessner (Kadima) said that he “values the fact that the finance minister is willing to sacrifice himself for the prime minister’s private attorney, but that is no reason to avoid the need to regulate the involvement of private individuals and interested parties in drawing up national plans.”

The Forum for Responsible Planning, the umbrella group unifying the nearly two dozen organizations that oppose aspects of the massive government bill, welcomed Lindenstrauss’s announcement.

“We are certain that the comptroller will give his opinion of the process leading up to the reform, including complaints regarding a lack of transparency, damage to ecological and social values, and conflicts of interest,” said attorney Amit Bracha, chairman of Adam Teva V’Din – an ecological organization that submitted an appeal against the bill to the High Court of Justice.

The organization has called for stopping the Knesset hearings preparing the bill for its readings on the floor, until the comptroller delivers his opinion.

Adam Teva V’Din, one of the groups represented by the Forum for Responsible Planning, said that the bill in its current form “generates concern that its advancement could create irreversible harm to the entire public.”

It is in the public’s interest, the organization argues, for all of the bodies that influenced the bill’s formulation to be revealed.

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