Faina Kirshenbaum
Faina KirshenbaumGili Yaari/Flash 90

A petition was filed to the High Court on Monday, to issue an order demanding that the interior minister, prime minister and the government explain why they don't exercise their authority to remove Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu) from her post due to her involvement in a massive corruption scandal.

Kirshenbaum harmed the rule of law, according to the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), by maintaining her right to silence amid a police investigation after it was revealed that she had over four million shekels (over $1 million) in various bank accounts as part of a money laundering and corruption case.

The deputy minister is a key figure in the scandal, and as a result she has resigned from the Yisrael Beytenu party list, becoming one of five MKs to jump ship in recent weeks amid the allegations.

MQG noted that under article 26 of the Basic Law: the Government, the government has the authority to remove Kirshenbaum from her post due to the serious suspicions and scandal.

The Movement also requested an order having Kirshenbaum not take part in government meetings or exercise her authorities as deputy minister until the petition against her is clarified and decided on.

It also demanded an urgent discussion of the petition given the approaching March 17 elections, and the need to clarify the uprightness of the public servants in the Knesset, so as to return public trust in the rule of its elected representatives.

Kirshenbaum must cooperate with the police, urged MQG, noting that her high position requires such a move to restore public trust. 

"The refusal of MK Kirshenbaum to cooperate with investigation sources, while she still serves as deputy minister in the government of Israel, is an additional stage in the race towards a great break and complete loss of trust of the public in its elected representatives," noted MQG.

Government deviation

The statement added "the refusal of the interior minister, prime minister and government of Israel to enforce their authority according to the law and remove her from her position, is a blatant deviation from their authority."

Noting on the coming elections "that are among the most important the state of Israel has known," the group added "precisely in these days the honorable court must return to the people a bit of inspiration, and grant the voter the feeling that before he stands before the ballot-box, he knows his voting slip has meaning. Because the person he sends to serve the public interest will know when the day comes to return his gaze and explain that which demands explaining."

Kirshenbaum is one of 30 senior figures suspected of involvement in corruption. The suspects apparently illegally allocated budgets to NGOs and different sources, transferred funds to regional council organizations, and laundered money through "straw company" fronts.

MQG has in the past asked for another minister to be removed from office for keeping silent in the face of a serious investigation.

In 2005 the group stated in a letter that Yitzhak Herzog, current Labor party chair, could not be appointed housing and construction minister due to his involvement in the 1999 "Amutot Barak" (Barak NGOs) scandal, in which it was charged that then Prime Minister Ehud Barak breached the party funding laws. 

Herzog maintained his right to silence in the case, forcing the attorney general to close the case against him due to a lack of evidence. Ironically, Herzog has been accused of another funding scandal in the current elections with the foreign funded V-15 group, and Herzog is again keeping silent.