Israeli Minister Pushed Government Agency to Lift Aide's Travel Restrictions

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev wearing a dress featuring the old city of Jerusalem arrives on May 17, 2017.
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev wearing a dress featuring the old city of Jerusalem arrives on May 17, 2017.Credit: ANTONIN THUILLIER / AFP
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Culture Minister Miri Regev asked a government agency to help one of her aides lift a judicial order forbidding him to travel abroad. The order was imposed because the aide has large unpaid debts, including child support owed to his ex-wife.

Before flying to the Cannes Film Festival last May, Regev asked the director of the Enforcement and Collection Agency, which collects unpaid debts, to help the aide get the order rescinded. The director, Tomer Moskowitz, contacted the head of the district office handling the case and asked him to ask the registrar in charge to rescind the order.

Since registrars have the status of judges, Regev’s conduct was like asking the director of the Courts Administration to ask a judge to change his ruling.

The registrar ultimately did rescind the order, allowing the aide to accompany Regev to Cannes.

Collection agency registrars were once part of the judiciary, but in 2009 they were made a separate unit of the Justice Ministry. At the time, concerns were voiced that this would lose registrars their judicial independence.

The registrar originally imposed the travel ban and other restrictions on the aide because the aide declared that he could not pay his debts. It’s unusual for registrars to waive such bans, and when they do, they usually require the debtor to post high bail.

Sources in the collection agency said that Regev contacted Moskowitz personally, and that his decision to ask his subordinates to take action on the matter was unusual. But Moskowitz told associates that there was nothing wrong with his actions, and that he has also intervened in cases that didn’t involve ministers.

Regev said this article in Haaretz was “a vain attempt to create a story out of nothing” since the decision to lift the travel ban “rests solely with the judge in the case.” Still, she added, “I welcome any bureaucrat who, in cases like this, makes life as easy as possible for ordinary people.”

The aide said he submitted his request like any other person, “with no breaks,” and the trip was strictly for work purposes.

The collection agency said its director, like other agency officials, frequently receives such requests and invariably transfers them to the registrars for decision, since they are the only parties authorized to decide.

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