Finance Ministry Director General Yarom Ariav said Thursday that the behavior of Accountant General Yaron Zelekha is "severely harming the productivity of the ministry, and consequently the economy of Israel."
Ariav spoke at a press conference he convened in response an interim order issued by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss Wednesday, preventing the cabinet from appointing a new accountant general to replace Zelekha.
Zelekha uncovered the Bank Leumi affair involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and is considered a steadfast fighter against government corruption.
The Finance Ministry demanded of the state comptroller to revoke the interim order so that he could be ousted. The treasury also called on Zelekha to resign his post.
The cabinet was about to approve the appointment of Shuki Oren as the new accountant general at its session on Sunday.
As ombudsman, Lindenstrauss has the authority to grant protection to officials who uncover corruption.
Ariav referred to remarks made by Lindenstrauss, who said that Zelekha denied that he had problematic working relationships with other officials at the ministry, saying "either the comptroller was knowingly misinformed, or the accountant general has severe reality perception problem, or both."
According to Ariav, senior finance ministry officials have in the past expressed concern over Zelekha's continued service in the accountant general post. "This past week clearly illustrated [this concern] when Zelekha very seriously tongue lashing to some of his current and former colleagues."
The director general addressed Zelekha's disparaging remarks about the ministry's legal advisor, attorney Yemima Mazuz, whom he called "a weak woman." Ariav added that "Mazuz has been a dedicated public servant for decades, and her record is spotless, and she is now also accused of being corrupt."
"It's part of a system," Ariav said, "anyone who objects or stands in the way is immediately sprinkled with the dust of corruption. Not everyone who objects to Zelekha's moves is actually corrupt. We are no less concerned over the purity of public service than Yaron Zelekha."
It is an unprecedented occurrence in the top echelon of Israel's government that the entire management of a government ministry comes out against a decision made by the state comptroller and demands the immediate dismissal of one of its members. Ariav, the prominent voice in the call for Zelekha's termination, said "this is an anomalous and unprecedented event because the situation in the treasury is unprecedented."
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