"I will not wait for the results of the committee that the prime minister said he will establish, a committee that has not been established to the best of my knowledge, and I will begin to decide the issues that should be audited at the Jewish National Fund (JNF). I will begin the audit unilaterally, and I will set dates for going to JNF institutions to begin the audit," said State Comptroller Joseph Shapira at a conference at the University of Haifa today.
At the conference, Shapira responded to claims that the JNF is not a public body or an organization that receives money from overseas, and therefore should not be audited. "To say today that the JNF should not be audited is not suited for the 21st century. The JNF is a kind of state within a state. The many attempts to impose audits on the JNF encounter strong objections not only by the JNF. I believe that it should be audited, and there is cooperation by the minister of justice, who submitted a bill on the matter. The ministerial legislation committee discussed the bill and rejected it in a 5:4 vote. The minister of justice intends to appeal in order to resume the discussion on this question," said Shapira.
"Friction among politicians, ministers, MKs, and rich men are a problem, and the JNF is rich. Imagine giving NIS 2.5 billion to a minister or two to distribute as they see fit. Imagine giving it to another organization. This combination of a body that controls land and a lot of money and has ties to the executive creates a risk that calculations will not always be businesslike."
The issue of auditing the JNF arose when Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni submitted a bill for the JNF to be audited by the State Comptroller, in contrast to current practice. The ministerial legislation committee rejected the bill, as well as another bill on the same subject submitted a few weeks later. Although the bills were not passed, Livni said that she would move ahead to define the JNF as a non-profit organization as determined by the Attorney General. As such, the JNF will be audited.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 5, 2014
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