A Virulent Bacteria in the Civil Service

The mother of all sins is the decision of the Likud to authorize the central committee to select its candidates for the Knesset.

The cabinet meeting that took place on November 11, 2001 deserves to be revisited: Quite a stormy discussion took place over legislation proposed by MK Abraham Hirchson that was meant to neutralize the influence of the Revivi Committee, which was examining the credentials of candidates for senior positions in civil service and government companies.

Hirchson's bill was passed by the ministerial committee on legislation, and then the entire cabinet was asked to listen to Dan Meridor's objections. The exchange at that meeting has relevance to these days - in which seven new deputy ministers have been appointed and a political appointments law is under consideration - because two ministers spoke openly at that meeting.

Then-justice minister Meir Sheetrit admitted that the ministers were operating under "threats, pressure and a reign of terror." He confirmed that he could not vote against Hirchson's bill because he was in jeopardy from the Likud Central Committee. Minister Dan Meridor praised Sheetrit for his sincerity and implored the ministers and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to buck the pressures and protect the status of the Revivi Committee in order to ensure proper administration of civil service.

"This is a matter of unparalleled seriousness - that the cabinet is incapable of making a decision based on the issue itself, but rather is afraid of a reign of terror, as the justice minister said," Meridor told his colleagues.

"The truth is, the cabinet is seeking to grant advantages, favors, appointments and honor to central committee members in order to gain their support - that's the truth. Such a problem does not exist in the central committees of other parties, which do not select their MK candidates. If the Likud - and I am speaking of a Likud I know well - had not made the decision to transfer the vote to the central committee, there would have been no problem," Meridor said.

Sheetrit did not have enough courage to vote in the cabinet against the law; he abstained, and Meridor remained alone in his opposition. One of the reincarnations of Hirchson's bill is the government appointments bill.

The collective face behind the bill, and behind the enthusiasm of seven rookie MKs to be appointed so soon as deputy ministers, is of gluttonous and shameless people carried to their destination on the wave of corrupt public norms created in the Likud Central Committee.

The mother of all sins is the decision of the Likud to authorize the central committee to select its candidates for the Knesset. The human makeup of the committee and the rules of the game that prevail there, the echoes of which are now being discussed even by the courts, have imposed a quasi-mafia culture: demands for rewards are harsh, open and accompanied by pressure and unbridled threats. In fact, the central committee has become a market in which the needs of the state and its resources are traded in broad daylight, without any consideration for the good of the state.

This mood, it seems, is not about to change. It cannot. The members of the central committee are wrapped in the self-righteous attitude that its expectations and actions are legitimate and are no different than the behavior of activists in other parties. A similar world of concepts has determined the path of Shas, and has led no small number of its leaders to the dock.

The Likud's leaders are not fighting the flawed reasoning that guides the central committee, but rather collaborate with it and foster it. Sheetrit, who spoke from the heart at that cabinet meeting three and a half years ago, is not seriously working for the bill he proposed to reform the internal election system of all the big parties. Sharon, controversial with regard to the virtuousness of his political behavior, promised to adopt Sheetrit's bill, but in fact has come to terms with its dissolution. His behavior in this regard shows that even he fears the central committee and flinches at confronting his colleagues over matters involving their ability to reward themselves.

The result is the polluting of the ministerial and administrative echelons with a virulent bacteria: the personal interests of the Likud activists.