The investigation into allegations of bribery in the Israel Tax Authority continued on Sunday morning, as Yossi Bachar, the outgoing Finance Ministry Director-General, finally acceded to calls by Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to take over as temporary head of the ITA until it becomes clear whether detained Director Jacky Matza will be able to return to his post. "I am full of appreciation to Bachar for accepting our calls to take up the temporary post as director of the Israel Tax Authority," said Hirchson on Saturday night.
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"The Israel Tax Authority, which is a very central and important body for the State of Israel, is undergoing a difficult time. Bachar is the right person at the right time to bring back the required stability to the system."
The ITA director praised Bachar's selection on Saturday and said that the temporary appointment would help to rapidly rejuvenate the establishment.
Matza's attorney, Navot Tel-Tzur, told Army Radio in an interview Sunday morning that his client supported Bachar's appointment, but hoped to return to his post soon.
"He definitely supports this step and backs the Finance Minister in this appointment, because he is very concerned about the [Tax] Authority and believes this step of appointing a substitute is appropriate," Tel-Tzur said. "He understands that he can't return in the near future, and he wants to invest all [his] resources and energy in this investigation."
While Hirchson had been seeking a temporary replacement for Matza over the past few days, Bachar, who will be leaving his position as Treasury director-general this week, had been reluctant to take up the post. There were candidates within the Tax Authority, but the Finance Ministry's preferred choice was Bachar, an accountant by profession who knows the Tax Authority well.
"I decided to accept Olmert's and Hirchson's requests to take up the temporary position as director of the Israel Tax Authority in an effort to help bring back stability and continuation to the Tax Authority's work and employees, whom I know so well," said Bachar. "I very much hope this appointment will be short and Matza will be able to return to his post."
Matza decided on Saturday to suspend himself from his post in order to concentrate on the fight to clear his name.
Tel-Tzur planned to inform Hirchson of Matza's decision on Sunday morning.
Police will decide on Sunday whether to extend the remand of Matza and his two deputies or to release them to house arrest.