The State Comptroller, charged with investigating allegations of inefficiency and corruption in the government, is investigating charges that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Kadima) used his position as Minister of Industry and Trade to make illegal appointments of cronies to top government jobs.
The report, which highlights Olmert’s involvement in the illegal appointments, is expected to be published by the comptroller’s office after the March 28 general election.
Yoav Yitzhak, an independent journalist whose frequent revelations of wrongdoings among Israel’s politically powerful have often rocked the establishment, contends that that the delay in publishing the comptroller’s report is politically motivated.
Yitzhak claims that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrausse’s report shows that Olmert abused his privilege to make appointments by handing out jobs based on political or personal considerations. The appointments allegedly were put into place by the ministry’s director general, Ra’anan Dinur, himself an Olmert political appointee.
Using government ministries to make political appointments has become a major issue in Israeli politics. Tzahi Hanegbi, a Likud stalwart who bolted the party to form Kadima with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was forced to resign his Knesset seat after being indicted on charges of making illegal appointments as Minister of Environmental Quality in the Sharon government.
Police investigators have launched a probe into what may be one of the most serious scandals involving a senior government official and his ties with the mob.
Prime Minister’s Office director in the north Eli Dahan, a former Likud activist and associate of PM Ariel Sharon’s son Omri, has disappeared over huge debts he incurred. Dahan apparently borrowed millions of shekels from underworld figures, with some of them filing a complaint with police. Others, however, have threatened Dahan’s life.