Two-thirds of Israelis: Gov't not fighting graft

Sixty-six percent of Israelis think the government is not doing enough to combat corruption, according to the Global Corruption Barometer released on Thursday by Transparency International. Four percent said they or a family member paid a bribe during the last year, twice the rate in the US and Britain. The report, published annually for the past four years, measures citizens' opinions on the level of corruption in various branches of government, and the success or effort with which the government is combating the phenomenon. This year's report incorporated responses from 59,661 people over age 15 from 62 countries. Sixteen percent of the 500 Israeli respondents said the government actively encouraged corruption, and 86% said corruption influenced politics. Israelis said political parties were the most corrupt entities in the public sphere, giving them a corruption index of 4.2 out of 5, where 5 stands for "highly corrupt." Next in line, at 3.8, was the Knesset, followed closely by "religious bodies" (3.6) and the Israel Police (3.3). The least corrupt institutions in the country, according to poll respondents, were the military establishment (2.2), the educational system (2.6) and the judiciary and state legal apparatus (2.8). The findings for Israel were similar to those abroad. Only 20% of respondents in the 62 countries said their governments were even "somewhat effective" in combating corruption, while 38% felt they were "utterly ineffective" and 15% believed they "encourage corruption," the study found. In one of the study's most disconcerting findings, 17% of respondents from Latin America and Africa reported having personally given a bribe to police.