Hanegbi contradicted on jobs-for-pals

Whether he meant to or not, Civil Service Commissioner Ya'acov Hollander on Monday contradicted Minister-without-Portfolio Tzahi Hanegbi's main defense concerning the political appointments that were made in the Environment Ministry while he was minister. Hanegbi has said on several occasions, including Monday at Knesset State Audit Committee, that he did not do anything that other ministers did not do and that political appointments had been the norm ever since the state was created. Hanegbi said up to 90 percent of the appointments involved junior positions that did not require a public tender. If his bureau had not chosen the candidates for the jobs, other ministry officials would have done so and, one way or the other, the jobs would not have been open to the public, he added. Hollander spoke at the end of a discussion in the Knesset committee on the special report issued by former state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg in August 2004 on "political and improper appointments to the Environment Ministry." Hollander told the committee that after Goldberg's report, he had sent out questionnaires to 6,000 Civil Service employees who had been hired without tenders, asking them to state whether they had relatives working in the ministry or personal or political links to the minister. "We found that there was no serious problem regarding this matter," he said. Goldberg found that during Hanegbi's term of office, the ministry hired 80 employees who had political ties to the Likud. The ministry employs 500 workers. Goldberg submitted his findings to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, who ordered a police investigation. Last week the police recommended indicting Hanegbi on several charges. Committee head Meli Polishook-Bloch (Shinui) told the MKs that in light of the fact that the committee had dealt with cases involving political corruption for the past four weeks, she would recommend establishing a judicial commission of inquiry to conduct a broad, in-depth investigation of the phenomenon. The committee discussion was marred by several harsh exchanges between Hanegbi and MK Ilan Shalgi (Shinui), who served as environment minister for two months after the death his colleague, Yehudit Na'ot. Looking at Hanegbi, Shalgi told the committee, "I hope there will be no more politicians like you."