Zelekha's Right. Too Bad

Sometimes, you need to know when to lose. That's one lesson accountant general Yaron Zelekha has yet to learn.

Zelekha is fighting everyone to the bitter end, and is now waging several battles simultaneously.

He is managing one campaign over the Bank Yahav tender - for other banks to supply banking services to civil servants, over which Yahav has had sole control until now. The accountant general plans to go ahead with the tender, which would save the state money and perhaps even would improve the benefits given to civil servants. The tender would also honor the law mandating tenders and the state comptroller's reports.

The problem is that the Civil Servants Union, which holds a 25-percent stake in Yahav, opposes undercutting the bank. Yahav is also a hot potato for the Finance Ministry because Michael Zoller, a close associate of Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, is the bank's chair. This connection is making the treasury tiptoe through the bank's privatization, and at least for now, to delay the tender by three months.

Zelekha refused to accept the treasury's decision and announced he would go ahead with the planned tender unless he receives an order stating otherwise from the state attorney general.

And what would happen if the attorney general doesn't support Zelekha? You can imagine the next stage: The country's accountant general petitions the High Court of Justice against the state.

This would be, it seems, a new low in the Kafkaesque grotesquerie known as the management of the Finance Ministry in particular and the State of Israel in general, that has been evident during the past few years. It would be the latest proof just how low the institutions of power and proper governance in the State of Israel have fallen.

Nobody watns to go there. It probably wouldn't serve the national interest anyway. Just before this final act comes to pass, one can only hope that someone involved in this will regain their composure and make a tactical retreat - for the good of everyone and for the country.

Odds are it will have to be Zelekha.

Not because he is not right or that it's not infuriating that he would be forced to give up on his principles precisely in a matter that personally touches the finance minister.

Zelekha is right - and his expected loss is indeed infuriating. But he will have to back down because the price of victory over Bank Yahav simply does not justify the governmental chaos Israel is liable to fall into.

If sometimes one needs to know when to lose, Zelekha doesn't have much choice in this instance.