'Political appointment system is flawed'

Former supreme court justice says tax authority scandal not unexpected.

IncomeTaxBuilding in jle (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
IncomeTaxBuilding in jle
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Tax Authority scandal, in which 22 suspects were arrested Tuesday morning, was the result of a flawed political appointment system and was not unexpected, according to Professor Yithak Zamir, a former Supreme Court Justice and author of a report recommending stronger ethical guidelines for Knesset members. "The system of appointments for public servants is a flawed system, with cracks that are being exploited all the time," Zamir said in an interview with Israel Radio on Wednesday.
  • Tax chief may be temporarily replaced
  • "Unjust appointments are not necessarily the result of political considerations or interests; they can also be done out of monetary motivations, as was the case in this situation," Zamir said. "In addition, they can also be a result of criminal motivations, like with the mafia, which in Italy and the United States was successful in bribing government officials." The Tuesday morning arrests were part of Operation Open Card, the police investigation into a scandal in which businessmen allegedly influenced the appointment of senior officials and tax assessors at the Israel Tax Authority in exchange for receiving tax breaks. We know "that political corruption is growing," Zamir continued. "The question is what do we do about it?" "I think we need to do what is being done. In every case where there is suspicion of breaking the law and unjust nomination, we must take the opportunity to launch a legal investigation," Zamir said. In October, Zamir headed the Public Committee of Inquiry into Knesset Ethics, which released a report recommending stronger ethical guidelines for Knesset members. The report suggested the establishment of a new position - chief of ethics - who would hear complaints from both the public and official figures.