MKs narrow focus of corruption committee

Likud MK Michael Eitan, head of the Parliamentary Investigation Committee to Uncover Corruption in the Governing System, said on Sunday that the committee, rather than investigating specific cases of corruption, would look into how government institutions responsible for fighting corruption do their jobs. "The committee cannot handle individual requests for investigating instances of corruption," he said. "For this, there is a police force, a state prosecution, a State Comptroller and various other branches employing thousands of people. On the other hand, the relative advantage of the committee is in its ability to study how these institutions function. Any improvement that we achieve as a result of legislation will reduce the instances of corruption in Israeli government." The committee is composed of all the members of the Knesset Law Committee plus MK Aryeh Eldad (Moledet), the head of the Knesset Ethics Committee, who initiated the call for conducting a parliamentary investigation. The MKs decided to examine the functioning of the State Comptroller, the state prosecution, the police, the Anti-Trust Limitation Authority, the Securities Authority and the Courts Authority. Eldad urged the committee examine a few specific cases to illustrate the overall phenomenon. He had hoped the committee would investigate the corruption allegations against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus attended the meeting and backed Eitan's proposal. "I don't believe a parliamentary investigative committee can achieve the results that might be expected of it if it investigates particular instances of corruption," he said. "We have a hard time doing that with hundreds of employees." Eitan pointed out the problems in having MKs investigate corruption. Members of opposing factions might exploit the subject to attack one another for political gain. In addition, this is an election year, in which politicians will be particularly interested in calling attention to themselves. But Eitan said he believed the committee could overcome these problems and that it should give the investigation a try.