Zelekha's protection order extended

Finance Ministry sources: Zelekha resigned because comptroller refused to make protection permanent.

YARON Zelekha 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
YARON Zelekha 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has extended the temporary protection order for Finance Ministry Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha by a month. According to Army Radio, sources in the Finance Ministry have said that Lindenstrauss refused to make Zelekha's protection order permanent, prompting the accountant-general to resign. Furthermore, the sources said, Lindenstrauss determined that the cabinet may immediately authorize the appointment of Zelekha's presumptive replacement, Shuki Oren. Zelekha announced his plans to resign in December in an interview to Channel 10 on Saturday evening. The accountant-general said he would leave his post after the completion of a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into the Bank Leumi stock sale affair and after a list of reforms was implemented. "I will step down in a month on the date I choose," Zelekha said, claiming that the prime minister's investigation was at an end. Regarding his reforms, the accountant-general said that following months of hard work, "no stone has been left unturned, no shekel unseen and no protocol unrevised." Zelekha, who notified Lindenstrauss of his intention to resign earlier Saturday, told Channel 10 that had he decided to remain in his position, Lindenstrauss would have issued a protection order on his behalf preventing a forced termination from taking place. Last month, Zelekha requested that Lindenstrauss issue a temporary order freezing Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On's decision not to extend the accountant-general's term on the grounds that he was a whistle blower and should therefore be allowed to remain in duty. On August 29, Bar-On informed Zelekha that his contract, which was set to expire on October 19, would not be renewed. A few days later, MKs Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and Arye Eldad (National Union/National Religious Party) filed an appeal against Bar-On's decision, charging that Zelekha was not being allowed to continue working because the accountant-general filed complaints against Olmert with Lindenstrauss. Lindenstrauss pointed out that Bar-On said Zelekha's contract would not be renewed because he believed senior positions should be rotated so that those who hold them do not go stale. However, Lindenstrauss said he was skeptical that was the real reason, noting that after Zelekha complained about Olmert, there were attempts to fire him until Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz made it clear he would not allow it, if only for the fact that people might suspect he was being dismissed because of the Bank Leumi affair. Zelekha was the government official who first raised suspicions of foul play in the tender for the sale of the government's controlling share of Bank Leumi.