Ruhama Avraham Grades Herself

Hundreds of local authority leaders throughout Israel recently received a little surprise. Inside a closed envelope was a ten-page booklet bound in shiny chromo. The binding bore the seal of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the title: "Account - Summary of the Activity of Deputy Interior Minister MK Ruhama Avraham".

The sub-title consisted of two dates: December 2005 ? March 2006". In case it escaped your attention, those were the dates between which Avraham served as acting interior minister.

True, she was responsible for running the ministry for all of four months but that short period of time did not deter her from fulfilling her public duty: informing the public of her achievements.

It is her term report, and despite the impression created by the binding with the Interior Ministry's symbol, it was not an official ministry document. She had it printed herself, at her own expense, using the budget she received as a Knesset member for keeping in touch with the voting public.

"I believe that an elected official is the public's agent, and therefore it should report not only to the superior echelon but to the citizen," she explains in the brochure. "Today I look back with satisfaction and am happy that despite all the obstacles, I was able to promote important moves."

She indeed has many reasons to feel satisfied.

"Given the credit crunch in local government," she explains, "that led to the collapse of many systems in the local authorities, the deputy minister" - herself - " decided to bring local authorities as a player in the capital market through municipal bonds."

That was indeed a very important decision by the deputy minister, not that it was actually her decision. Offerings of munis have been handled, very intensively, for the last year and a half, by the Finance Ministry, with full cooperation of the Interior Ministry. That is probably why the deputy minister's list includes "establishing an inter-ministerial committee" and also "a seminar on January 29, 2006 in which 400 mayors took part". That seminar is the main impression that Avraham left behind in respect to munis.

Avraham also takes possession of reforming the water and sewage corporations, another subject under handling for years on end by the Finance, Interior and Infrastructure ministries. She explains: "As part of the deputy minister's policy of diversifying authorities among the subjects, meetings were held in each district with the cooperation of the district authority", and also, "creating an incentive for the authorities joining the process of incorporation". That incentive has been in place for years, by the way: it just gets renewed each year.

The former deputy minister, today the chair of the Knesset House Committee, also reported an "emergency meeting with the head of the Police force and representatives of local government" and about "summoning a meeting at the deputy minister's office in which the tax commissioner participated".  She even wrote that "every Sunday, through two months, the deputy minister began the week with a visit to the Population Administration in east Jerusalem". Clearly, the deputy minister believes in proper disclosure: she reveals her entire schedule throughout the four months.

We wouldn't have picked on the details of the deputy minister's schedule - after all, those four months were a hard time of interim government in which it is objectively hard to promote things - if she herself had not taken the trouble to list them, with such open pride. And, if we hadn't remembered how much we paid for those four months. A deputy minister costs NIS 1.5 million to NIS 2 million a year to maintain. Obviously, given how crowded their schedules are, that's money well spent.

We wouldn't have picked on the details of the deputy minister's schedule - though beforehand we knew her chiefly from that affair of flying overseas at the expense of Agrexco and then promoting the company's interests in the Knesset - if we had not wondered at her choice of address for listing her achievements. Namely, the heads of the local authorities, who know her achievements as deputy minister very well, and need no reminder.

Yet Ruhama Avraham chose to remind that very public of her achievements. Maybe she remembers that the way to bolster her status in the State of Israel passes through local government, and the vast pool of jobs and other perks that it can provide.