The Knesset Finance Committee held another fiery meeting over
the scandalous delays in transferring 2005 budget funds for
Torah culture organizations. During the meeting Attorney
Amnon De Hartoch, appointed by the Justice Ministry to
formulate the criteria for granting support funding to
organizations, unabashedly admitted that he is demanding the
results of the Education Ministry's field checks of Torah
organizations but not of other cultural organizations or of
science and art organizations.
De Hartoch's remarks set off a storm of protest not seen in
the committee in recent memory. "What, are you a policeman?
Are you the State Comptroller? Why are you involved in the
checks, anyway? This is a matter for the police and other
enforcement officials," MK Nissim Dehan (Shas) roared at him.
MK Meshulam Nehari (Shas) added to the shouts and
In a previous meeting De Hartoch reported having requested
the reports of Education Ministry officials on the findings
of the audits of the Torah culture organizations, and in the
recent meeting he reiterated that he has no intention of
approving the criteria that would allow the transfer of 2005
funding until he receives the reports. He also claimed that
the criteria already formulated by the Education Ministry are
inequitable, but he did not explain why he thought so.
Education Minister L. Livnat said she has no idea why the
funding cannot be transferred to the Torah culture
organizations since her ministry had formulated new criteria
for this purpose. She demanded De Hartoch explain why the
transfer process cannot finally get underway after six months
of repeated delays and after she had already approved the
criteria in accordance with the law.
Exhibiting no shame De Hartoch accused the Education Minister
of drafting inequitable criteria, but was unable to specify
just what was inequitable. The Education Minister was angry
at the accusations lodged against her, saying that the
Education Ministry's legal advisor, Attorney Morag, worked
behind her back to collaborate with De Hartoch against the
criteria. Livnat said she has filed a complaint against Morag
with Attorney General Mani Mazuz.
Livnat also claimed no legal advisor, including the Attorney
General, is above the law, which states criteria must be
formulated to allow the distribution of funding to Torah
The Finance Committee's legal advisor, Attorney S. Afik, told
MKs that it is the Education Minister who is entitled to
formulate criteria and act in accordance with them even
though De Hartoch continues to delay their execution. Livnat
has already held all of the required consultations with the
legal advisor and the other relevant entities, including the
Torah culture organizations.
Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said he discussed
the matter with Attorney General Mani Mazuz demanding that he
approve the criteria to enable the distribution of funding to
the Torah culture organizations and said Mazuz promised to
give him an answer within a few days.
At the end of the meeting the committee called on the
Education Ministry to release the overdue funding within
days, to complete the approval procedures for the new
criteria and to distribute the funding to the Torah culture
organizations as required by law.