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The Movement for Quality Government will look into a possible conflict of interest in the decision to award the Israel Prize to Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi. Mizrahi was selected by a panel headed by retired Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball star Tal Brody.

Brody, who had suggested giving Mizrahi the prize in the field of sport, is also a former Maccabi board member, who still sits in board meetings.

"I'm not a board member, I'm invited to meetings as a public representative and express an opinion," Brody said yesterday.

"If I were a board member, I wouldn't have been able to be on the panel. There is no conflict of interests, I asked about the regulations when they asked me to head the panel. I asked because people know me, my background and ties and they certainly know that I'd know the candidates. They told me it was fine, as far as the Education Ministry was concerned it was fine," he said.

The Israel Prize rules require panel members to sign a declaration regarding the absence of conflict of interest in their serving on the prize committee. Brody had signed the declaration, which says "I am not aware of any position, occupation or tenure, of mine or of my family relatives, which could place me in a conflict of interests regarding any of the prize candidates."

After receiving calls about a possible conflict of interest in nominating Mizrahi for the Israel Prize, the Movement for Quality Government sent a query to the state comptroller, who is also expected to look into the matter. It made its announcement about looking into the matter yesterday.

Officials in the Education Ministry, which is in charge of the panel, denied any such conflict exists in Brody's case.

"Tal signed a document saying there's no conflict of interests," a ministry official said. "By that, we did our duty. We're not an investigations agency."

A ministry statement said a conflict of interest means "current family or business relations between the judges and any of the candidates. Hence, there is no conflict in this case. The well-known fact that one of the three panel members played with Maccabi Tel Aviv dozens of years ago, does not constitute a conflict of interests."