Lindenstrauss may investigate Netanyahu’s transition team

Opponents of planning reform bill welcome probe into possible conflicts of interest among team members

Micha Lindenstrauss 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Micha Lindenstrauss 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced Tuesday that he may probe the members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “100 days” transition team for instances of conflict of interest.
Lindenstrauss told members of the Knesset’s State Control Committee that he was highly likely to probe the process that led to the drafting of the highly controversial Building and Planning Bill that is currently being debated in a Knesset joint committee.
The State Control Committee, chaired by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), methours before the first working session of the joint committee in orderto ask for Lindenstrauss’s opinion on the involvement of Netanyahu’spersonal attorney – Dan Shamron – in drafting the reform bill. Shamronwas a member of the transition team in which the reform was firstconsidered.
Neither Netanyahu nor Shamron was present during the hearing.
Presenting the government’s case was Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz,who said that “Shamron did not even want to be part of the team, andinitially refused, but it was logical that for the reform, I wouldbring in an adviser who specialized in the field.”
MK Yohanan Plessner (Kadima) said that he “values the fact that thefinance minister is willing to sacrifice himself for the primeminister’s private attorney, but that is no reason to avoid the need toregulate the involvement of private individuals and interested partiesin drawing up national plans.”
The Forum for Responsible Planning, the umbrella group unifying thenearly two dozen organizations that oppose aspects of the massivegovernment bill, welcomed Lindenstrauss’s announcement.
“We are certain that the comptroller will give his opinion of theprocess leading up to the reform, including complaints regarding a lackof transparency, damage to ecological and social values, and conflictsof interest,” said attorney Amit Bracha, chairman of Adam Teva V’Din –an ecological organization that submitted an appeal against the bill tothe High Court of Justice.
The organization has called for stopping the Knesset hearings preparingthe bill for its readings on the floor, until the comptroller delivershis opinion.
Adam Teva V’Din, one of the groups represented by the Forum forResponsible Planning, said that the bill in its current form “generatesconcern that its advancement could create irreversible harm to theentire public.”
It is in the public’s interest, the organization argues, for all of thebodies that influenced the bill’s formulation to be revealed.