Israel continues slide in global corruption index

Among Middle Eastern countries, the UAE and Qatar rank above Israel. The lowest ranked countries are South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

 THE BANK of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
THE BANK of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Transparency International, a global organization fighting corruption, has ranked Israel 36th out of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021. Israel receives a score of 59, the first time that it has received a score lower than 60 in the index in its current format, putting it just nine points above the "red line" score of 50, below which a country is considered corrupt (the higher the score, the less corrupt a country is considered to be).

Among Middle Eastern countries, the UAE and Qatar rank above Israel. The lowest ranked countries are South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, North Korea, and Afghanistan. The average score in the 2021 index is 43.

The compilers of the Corruption Perceptions Index examine how countries are perceived through professional research institutes. The index serves as a tool for companies examining the possibility of doing business in the countries covered.

General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019. (credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019. (credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)

Judge (emeritus) Nili Arad, chairperson of Transparency International Israel, says that Israel's position in the rankings "is especially serious during this period of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, in which extra transparency and greater protection of the foundations of democracy against harm are required." Arad adds, "Israel's low position on the index is a warning sign against manifestations of corruption and deterioration into the symptoms of a corrupt country."

Over the past five years,  Israel has declined from a score of 64 to 59 in the Corruption Perceptions Index. In 2020, Israel received a score of 60, and was ranked in 35th place. Israel is 29th and last among the OECD countries, four places lower than in 2020. Other countries in the lowest quartile for the OECD are Poland, Italy, Turkey, Greece, and Hungary.

No country receives a perfect 100 score. Top of the rankings are Denmark, New Zealand, and Finland on 88, followed by Singapore, Sweden, and Norway on 85. The US scores a low 67 for the second successive year. France and the UK have improved their scores, with France receiving 71 points versus 69 in 2020, while the UK scores 78 versus 77.

The most improved countries are Armenia and Uzbekistan. Both receive low scores, but since 2017 Armenia has gained 14 points and Uzbekistan has gained 11. Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, have deteriorated. In recent years, according to the index compilers, the governments in these countries have harmed human rights, freedom of speech, the ability to criticize the regime, and freedom of association, and there have been murders of political and human rights activists.

The index is based on the work of twelve independent research institutes with expertise in government, civil society, economics, and business administration. Each country is examined by 6-7 research institutes, which carry out studies and in-depth surveys. The institutes examine, among other things, the government's ability to deal with corruption, the degree to which corrupt phenomena are actually stamped out by the regime, the effectiveness of enforcement agencies, including in putting public figures who have strayed on criminal trial, how public figures treat the public purse, protection for whistleblowers, the degree of transparency in the country, freedom of the press, and respect for human rights.