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
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
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.