Jewish Agency, health ministry blasted over failures in watchdog report

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira published his annual report on Tuesday, slamming the government for a variety of deficiencies in the arenas of medicine, cyber crime and others, while also calling on the attorney-general to investigate Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.
Shapira said the report reflected his focus on the “two flagship issues” of “struggling against public corruption” and “defending human rights, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of weaker sectors” of society.
While the report acknowledged the agreement led to development of the Tamar Reservoir and the flow of gas to Israel earlier than the initial target date, Shapira said the resultant rise in gas prices cost the IEC between $820 million and $1.5 billion – likely influencing electricity rates as well.
Shapira found that ministries granted the Jewish Agency exemption from tender bids in a number of areas – only some of which were permitted according to an agreement reached with the government.
In 1952, the state granted the Jewish Agency a unique status, which among other things allowed it exemption from tendering contracts in specified areas.
The agreement was renewed in 1979.
The audit found, however, that ministries allowed the agency to implement some projects in areas that were incompatible with functions listed in the agreement and others which were clearly not permitted.
Shapira also tackled the issue of cross-boundary water pollution, describing the problem as Israel’s most serious ecological hazard that crosses the Green Line.
Blaming a variety of government authorities for failing to coordinate their activities or set specific policy for handling the treatment of such resources, the state comptroller called upon relevant officials to join forces immediately.
Shapira called upon all relevant parties to take “systemic action” and unify under one inter-ministerial team, as well as enlist international support, to find solutions to what has become one of the gravest problems in the region.

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