Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File].
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Tuesday published his annual report on a range of major issues from the “Bibi Tours” Affair, to problems fighting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign to addressing Beduin rights and issues.
The report addresses a wide range of other critical health and environmental issues.
Further, it covers the economic war on organized crime, failed oversight of the IDF’s purchase of munitions and failed oversight of quasi-government groups’ spending of government funds.
Shapira handed the report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at 2:00 p.m.
Regarding the Bibi Tours Affair, the report alleges problematic conduct relating to possible double billing, use of public bonus miles for personal use for overseas flights by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other issues related to his time as finance minister from March 2003 to August 2005.
Next, the report slams the state’s current failures in fighting BDS.
It says that the Foreign Ministry is underfunded and undermanned, although it is the organization which holds the expertise and logistical ability, with 106 overseas locations, to carry the flight in fighting BDS.
In contrast, the report notes that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has been allotted massive funds to fight BDS, but lacks the Foreign Ministry’s infrastructure to maximize the potential of those funds.
In fact, Shapira writes that to a large extent, a significant volume of the funds has not even been spent due to that lack of infrastructure for implementing concrete programs.
Moving on to Beduin issues, the report found that one third of the estimated 200,000 Beduin in Israel live in unrecognized villages and the solution to the problem is “an issue of national importance of the first order.”
The issue touches on legal, social, economic, and security issues that affect the entire country, it said.
The main recommendations of the report included a call for the regulation of ownership claims “as soon as possible” and speeding up implementation of an action plan.
It called for the government to determine and explain its policy, especially with the local Beduin population.
Honing in on health issues, the comptroller gives the Health Ministry failing marks for several important functions for which it is responsible.
They include failing to prevent the near-collapse of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) or properly supervising its financial recovery to highly inadequate handling of rehabilitation of the mentally ill and overseeing legal and illegal abortions and the functioning of medical labs. The 217 pages, which deal with major healthcare issues, are among the most critical of the ministry in years.
The HMO, with its two university hospitals, has 1,149 beds and employs 5,000 doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and administrative and maintenance workers.
Due to various reasons, its accumulated deficit reached NIS 1.3 billion in 2014 and the health and finance ministries eventually forced it to enter a recovery plan in exchange for NIS 1.4 billion from its coffers.
The report also addresses organized crime in Israel, saying that it benefits from insufficient cooperation between police, prosecutors, and regulatory bodies.
In a section entitled “The Financial Battle against Serious and Organized Crime”, the report states that the Tax Authority, the Israel Police, the State Prosecutor’s office, and other bodies lack the level of cooperation needed to target illegal banking and money laundering, in particular the thousands of currency exchange businesses across Israel.
According to a 2015 Justice Ministry report, there were only 6 inspectors in the Finance Ministry responsible for regulating more than 2,000 currency exchange stores across the country. The same report estimated that the unofficial, unregulated economy known as the “gray market” is worth as much as NIS 130 billion or more annually.