Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Tammuz 5764 - July 7, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Justice Ministry Instructs Other Ministries to Transfer Funds to Yeshivas and NGOs from Previous Years
by G. Kleinman

The Justice Ministry instructed the other ministries last week to begin transferring support funding from previous years to hundreds of non-government organizations that held temporary proper management certificates valid for just a few months rather than an annual certificate.

The government authorized the NGO Registrar to conduct inquiries into NGOs and to issue them annual proper management certificates. All of the yeshivas are listed as NGOs, and that is the only way they are eligible for government support. For reasons not made clear, the Registrar created two different types of certificates: annual proper management certificates for organizations that submitted all of the required paperwork and were not under audit, and temporary certificates for NGOs that did not submit all of the documentation or were chosen at random to be audited by the NGO Accountant's Office.

Attorney Amnon De Hartoch, head of support funding at the Justice Ministry, recently decided he was no longer willing to recognize temporary certificates, meaning all yeshivas holding such forms would be ineligible for government support funds. To back this stance he telephoned the accountants of the government ministries and instructed them not to transfer payments to NGOs holding temporary certificates. He did not issue any written directive.

One month ago, many institutions turned to Betzedek Director Attorney Rabbi Mordechai Green, asking him to seek legal recourse to cancel that new decree. Following an inquiry that found hundreds of NGOs hold only temporary certificates, he contacted various ministry officials to inform them of the gravity of the directive and called it illegal.

When the Justice Ministry did not alter its policy, Green submitted a High Court appeal in which he attacked the NGO Registrar for phoning organizations to inform them that their funding was being discontinued rather than sending a written explanation or document of some kind.

According to the appeal, from a formal and substantive legal perspective, the temporary certificates should be considered identical to permanent certificates, since in fact the NGO Registrar is not authorized to issue temporary certificates.

When the court ordered the State to submit a response, the State announced it would reverse its policy and even exceeded expectations by saying NGOs would only be denied support funding in very extreme cases.

Jurists expressed hope that the success of this appeal would persuade government authorities not to arbitrarily discontinue funding, without a legal basis. Now that the State has submitted its response, it appears the case will focus on the question of whether and if so which figure is legally authorized to stop funding for NGOs and how this injustice occurred.

Betzedek plans to ask the court to have the State cover the legal costs since the Justice Ministry failed to understand that institutions had been unjustly harmed until the case was brought to court.


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