Police Probe Eini for Cronyism After Opponents Complain

Eini is accused of appointing confederates to positions in the Histadrut and its subsidiary organizations, as well as mismanagement.

Opposition figures in the Histadrut labor federation have filed a police complaint against current chairman Ofer Eini, accusing him of appointing friends to the organization - a surprising turn in the elections for Histadrut chairman.

Eini is accused of appointing confederates to positions in the Histadrut and its subsidiary organizations, as well as mismanagement. The complaint is based on an expose broadcast by Channel 10's "Makor" ("Source" ) program, said a police source.

Ofer Eini

Police are well aware of the nasty fight going on in the Histadrut elections, a police source told Haaretz yesterday, but added that police would investigate since a complaint had been filed. The complaint was filed with the national economic crimes unit.

The economic crimes unit is investigating and has already questioned a number of Histadrut employees, as reported on Yoav Yitzhak's News1 website.

Eini's representatives dismissed the charges as baseless.

"This is not the first time that political interests have tried to use the police to advance their candidacies, as if [the police] is a tool for their campaigns," said the Histadrut in a statement. "We do not know of the existence of any investigation or those who have been questioned, and in any case we will fully cooperate with any law-enforcement body," it added.

Hints from the Histadrut at political interests seem to be directed at MK Amir Peretz (Labor ), who is running against Eini for chairman in the May elections. Yesterday, Peretz's campaign staff filed an appeal with the Histadrut's internal court to dismiss the Histadrut's current central election committee, which is overseeing the upcoming elections, due to "undemocratic behavior of the committee and the use of improper methods."

Eitan Cabelm, Amir Peretz
Olivier Fitoussi

Peretz's candidacy was thrown out by the committee based on claims that the list of signatures of his supporters for being placed on the ballot contained forged signatures.

The other candidate for chairman, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor ), also had his candidacy thrown out. The election committee said he did not gather the required 5,000 signatures as there were many who signed for more than one candidate or whose signatures may have been forged.

Both Peretz and Cabel were given a week to prepare for a hearing on their claims and to correct any flaws in their lists. The hearing is to be conducted tomorrow by retired Judge David Bar-Ophir.

The central election committee has denied the charges against it by Peretz and Cabel.

Despite accusations within the Histadrut of a political plot against Eini, there has been a great deal of media coverage over the past few months that has raised a number of questions concerning Eini's actions. For example, reports of a close personal relationship between Eini and Ravit Dom, who was formerly his chief of staff and was appointed just over a year ago as the head of the Amal network of vocational schools, which belongs to the Histadrut. A few weeks ago, Eini officially announced the relationship between the two and even sought instruction from the Histadrut's legal adviser as how to proceed in the matter. Channel 10 reported that many Amal officials are unhappy with Dom's management, and that she has no experience in the field of education.

A number of other people considered close to Eini also work or have worked for Amal. Eini was also accused of nepotism, as his brother is the head of his Histadrut faction. Another brother is employed by a company with strong connections to the Histadrut and many former union officials. Eini has also appointed a number of close associates as company directors in addition to their Histadrut postions.