Unions Demand AG Block Itzik's Appointment to Knesset Speaker

Directors, scriptwriters to Mazuz: Dalia Itzik's tenure as communications minister fraught with corruption.

Israel's unions of directors and scriptwriters have asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to block Dalia Itzik's appointment to Knesset speaker.

The unions claim that Itzik's tenure as communications minister was fraught with suspicions of curruption and breach of trust, and she should therefore be subject to a criminal investigation.

The claims against Itzik focus on allegedly backing media mogul Haim Saban in his takeover on key media organizations in Israel against the public's interests and in exchange for generous donations to election campaigns and other events.

The allegations mainly concern a communications conference Itzik held in September 2005 for Israel's most prominent communications firms. While the Communications Ministry was the official sponsor of the conference, it was actually funded by the participating firms.

Haim Saban was among the sponsors of the conference. Saban is the owner of the Bezeq communications company, and also sat on the conference planning committee, headed by Itzik.

Shortly thereafter, it was exposed that Saban donated $100,000 to Shimon Peres, who was running for the chairmanship of the Labor Party. Itzik ran Peres' campaign while serving as communications minister.

Union sources, represented by Attorney Smadar Ben-Natan, also claim that Itzik acted vigorously to help Saban maintain his hold of 42 percent of Keshet's shares, even after he had bought Bezeq.

Keshet is one of the three Channel 2 operators, regulated by the Second Authority for Television and Radio. Bezeq is a primary investor in the Yes Satellite Services broadcasting company, and the law prohibits the ownership of two television bodies.

"These suspicions reflect a grave phenomenon of the wealthy using large amounts of money to buy off state leaders in order to advance their thriving businesses, thereby going against the interest of the public at large and against every regulation of proper management and governance," wrote the unions in their letter to the attorney general.

"Because this refers to substantial suspicions of breach of trust and corruption, we demand that MK Itzik, a candidate for Knesset speaker, not be appointed until results of a thorough examination [of the suspicions] are received.