Israeli NGO: Probe Goldknopf's alleged shady land deals

An association managed by Goldknopf sold an apartment to his granddaughter but didn't declare the familial connection.

 United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Movement for Purity of Morals appealed to State Attorney Amit Isman and the registrar of associations on Monday and demanded they open an investigation into incoming housing minister Yitzhak Goldknopf.

This demand came as a result of a report by Haaretz about an apartment that Goldknopf apparently sold through an organization that he runs to his granddaughter without declaring the relation between them.

In the movement's statement, it wrote that "the articles that were published paint a disturbing picture where associations run by MK Goldknopf act as 'pipe organizations' to other associations that run kindergartens for children in the ultra-Orthodox communities in violation of the Education Ministry's instructions."

The movement further claimed that the organization in question, which is related to the MK sold "real estate it owned for a far cheaper price than is seen in the market while giving a false report that hid the familial connection."

What is the suspicious activity reported by Haaretz?

The appeal written by the Movement for Purity of Morals based on the Haaretz report also stated that an association that Goldknopf managed employs a large number of his relatives "in high positions with salaries that are higher than acceptable including very generous salaries to MK Goldknopf himself."

 MK MOSHE Gafni (right) in deep discussion with fellow United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset plenum last week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK MOSHE Gafni (right) in deep discussion with fellow United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Goldknopf in the Knesset plenum last week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

According to the NGO, this report raises suspicion of criminal behavior and therefore the state attorney should order the opening of a criminal investigation into the matter. The movement also asked the registrar of associations to appoint an investigator who will look into the relevant associations "and will work to actively supervise the conduct of the associations and will take decisive and assertive steps against those involved in undue conduct."

Goldknopf was the director of a series of education associations in the ultra-Orthodox community before he was elected into Knesset two months ago, the main of which was the "Beit Yaakov kindergartens and daycares." 

This association employs thousands of people with a turnover of NIS 208 million in 2021. 90% of the association's finances came from the nation's budget or the local authorities, while recent reports revealed how Goldknopf allegedly used these associations as the source of his family's wealth.

One of the problematic deals that came up in the Haaretz report was in 2017 when according to a report submitted by the association to the registrar of associations, an apartment owned by the company was sold to Chaya Roda Yehudit Farkash, Goldknopf's granddaughter. The Justice Ministry's instructions force people to report relations between associations and people who were on the other side of business deals with them, but in this case, no familial connection was ever reported.