A disagreement has risen in the State office over the case of the Prime Minister, Netanyahu and the financing of his defense in three criminal cases currently undergoing a trial.
Netanyahu is due for his first trial hearing in October. Tension is rising as auditors resign from their posts in the State Office, mostly due to concern of how the country’s anti-corruption unit leader is biased in favor of Netanyahu and is playing the role of his “watchdog.”
These issues reflect the huge part that corruption still plays inside politics.
For ten years, since Lindenstrass and Shapira’s term, the Comptroller has fought against corruption in high-levels and conducted investigations into the office of the State Prosecutor, Israel’s Bank, and the Prime Minister’s office.
Shapira was in charge of the investigation of Netanyahu’s wife which occurred recently and resulted in a guilty plea to the allegations of misusing funds belonging to the public.
Shortly before the end of Netanyahu’s term, the Comptroller’s office was deciding on whether Netanyahu can use the 300,000 dollars that his American cousin, billionaire Milikowsky, donated for his upcoming legal charges.
Netanyahu did not wait for the decision of the Comptroller’s office to accept the funds. His relationship with Milikowsky is also a topic in one of the three corruption cases filed against him.
After Shapira’s term ended, the Office of the Comptroller denied Netanyahu’s permit to accept funds during a time when he is being charged for doing such. The newly appointed Comptroller Englman was angry at the denial of the permit, expressing to the committee that their job is deciding to give the permit or to deny it, and nothing further.
This angered the committee members, leading to three resignations in addition to the previous resignation of the last committee head which occurred about five months prior, after confiding in his colleagues that he was under pressure from political parties.
Englman’s election as the Comptroller of the state occurred July this year, and he was heavily backed by Netanyahu’s party. It was unconventional, taking into account that Engleman does not have a background in the judiciary system, but rather was an accountant.
Some people have interpreted it to be a move inspired by politics, expressed Feldman, a professor of law. It suggests that a comptroller was strategically put in place whose primary goal is not to ensure that its public leaders are accountable but to focus more on how to get more benefits.
Englman’s election was not a long time after the introduction of the bill of immunity, a bill primarily made to clear the charges of fraud and bribery made against Netanyahu.
In an interview, Englman projected how he will ensure that his time in office will be different from that of his predecessors. He explained his role as an overseer and not an enforcer of the law, and that his role is not only to highlight failures but to encourage good management and excellence.
There have been rising concerns about Englman’s approach, with opinions being raised that it is a soft way to deal with corruption in the government. These concerns reached a peak after an anonymous source within the Office of the Comptroller informed Haaretz that Englman expressed the desire to eliminate the unit for special cases, which has in the past dealt with cases on corruption.