Comptroller's Report Slams Olmert, Police, Gov't Job Practices

The annual State Comptroller's Report heaps scathing accusations of corruption on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Police and Civil Service employment practices.

Ezra HaLevi , | updated: 10:01 AM

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss's report, released Tuesday, outlines how Olmert, who chaired the Israel Land Council as Minister of Industry and Trade in the Sharon regime, became overly involved in the sale of commercial properties at Jaffa Port.

An earlier decision had stipulated that the properties be sold via competitive bidding, but Olmert's involvement reversed that decision, while the rest of the Council was kept in the dark as to the extent of his personal involvement. In the end, negotiations deadlocked as the deal brokered by Olmert proposed a trade which would received only $2.3 million worth of properties for the Jaffa Port property, which was estimated to be worth $13.5 million.

Olmert told the comptroller that he became involved after both the Israel Land Authority director as well as Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai approached him. Lindestrauss found, however, that only Huldai approached Olmert, and that his involvement constituted a conflict of interest and should have instead been referred to the Council.

Police Close Cases Selectively
The report blasts the police for the ease and frequency of decisions to dismiss complaints without investigation. Such behavior, the report claims, "undermines citizens' quality of life, police deterrence and the rule of law."

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is cited for failing to draw up guidelines for what types of complaints should be pursued, leaving the door open for outside considerations to dictate enforcement of the law.

The report claimed that about 34% of criminal files were dismissed even though they could have been investigated. In 42% of those cases, no explanation was offered as to why the case was being closed. Often "lack of public interest" was cited as a reason, but 50% of the time citizens were not even informed that their case had been closed.

Civil Service Violated Employment Procedures
The Comptroller's Report also criticized the manner in which government workers were hired without tendering the positions to the public – a violation of a Supreme Court ruling. The report said that 55% of the government positions filled this past year were never announced to the public, but rather awarded to those already working in the service. It also describes a policy of "fixed-appointments" of positions in the Ministries of Justice and Finance. The report even cited Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander as having violated regulations in order to elevate his assistant to a senior post.

In response, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel sent a demand to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he immediately dismiss Hollander for failing to act in accordance with the law during his decade as commissioner.

Hollander strongly attacked both the report and Lindenstrauss, alleging that the State Comptroller's office engages in identical employment practices. Lindenstrauss dismissed the claim and called upon Hollander to refrain from attempts to deflect the criticism of his actions by citing the practices of others.

Road Accidents, Desalinization
"The government of Israel has not defined the battle against traffic accidents as a national goal - and neither have the government ministries responsible for the issue," the report said.

The delay in government movement toward expanded desalinization programs is compounding Israel's water shortage, the report states. Though a decision to build seven such plants was made two years ago, only one has so far been constructed.