Miri Regev must not remain transport minister one more day

Miri Regev  credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
Miri Regev credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth

After Channel 13's exposure of the way narrow political considerations guide policy at the Ministry of Transport, Regev has lost all public legitimacy.

The "Hamakor" investigative repot by Raviv Drucker broadcast on Channel 13 last Thursday night provided an additional insight into the conduct of Minister of Transport Miri Regev and the order of priorities of the ministry she heads. It showed that Regev no longer has any public legitimacy to serve as minister of transport.

In the report, Yonatan Yehosef, the minister’s former professional chief of staff, revealed that questionable lists were drawn up in Regev’s bureau: local authorities where Regev was strong in the Likud party, or where she wished to improve political ties with their heads, were marked green; others were marked in yellow; and those unmarked did not receive responses to their requests. Likud activists were also ranked according to how much power they had. A "diamond" ranking merited special treatment. Below that were different grades such as "anchor" and "important activist". The report also revealed that Regev adds in her own handwriting to meeting summaries and protocols that the instructions were given "in accordance with the guidance of the professional advisers" even in cases in which the professional advisers thought differently or opposed actions that she promoted. Regev ignored professional recommendations even in local authorities ranked high.

When her decisions were not carried out, she would complain that projects were not making progress, providing further evidence of the weakness of the ministry during her term, as it failed to execute some of her decisions. Such cases could, however, be evidence of silent, but sometimes active, opposition on the part of professional officials at the ministry, and the brakes they tried to put on the lawlessness, with billions of shekels of the state budget being distributed in accordance with the minister’s narrow political interests.

The report also provides further evidence of the connection between Regev and Netivei Israel - National Transport Infrastructure Company under its CEO Nisim Peretz, as the chief executor of Regev’s decisions in her campaign to conquer the Likud party, her ultimate objective, according to Yehosef, being to become prime minister. Peretz talks in private as though he guards the company against the politicians, but the report provides further evidence that he has become their lackey, even while the company he runs is responsible for an annual budget of NIS 7 billion.

In the past few years, "Globes" has exposed many cases in which Regev preferred narrow political consideration to professional ones. Only last week, sources in the infrastructure sector testified to a political deal in which Regev is promoting an additional railway station in Netivot five kilometers from the existing station, contrary to the stance of the professionals and the strategic plan of Israel Railways. The report revealed that Netivot is a "green" city, whose mayor, Yehiel Zohar, is a powerful force in the Likud.

As reported by "Globes", Yehosef testified how Regev diverted billions of shekels that had been earmarked for the extension of the Red Line of the Tel Aviv area light rail to Rishon Lezion in favor of the roads program, in order to be able to add various roads that were important to her people; Rishon Lezion is graded "yellow" in Regev’s scheme.

Since Regev was appointed minister of transport for the second time last year, many professionals have left the ministry. A source in the Ministry of Transport told "Globes" in the past, "The country’s citizens should know that there is no minister of transport in Israel… There is no understanding of the substance of the role unless it’s to do with centers of political power or appointments; there are no professional discussions, no problem solving; where there are strong professional people, things move, and where there aren’t, they don’t."

Regev has made many appointments with the aim of advancing her agenda. She gained control of Netivei Israel - National Transport Infrastructure Company through the appointment as chairperson of Yigal Amadi, a Likud politician, who was photographed with Regev at a party primary election event, with CEO Nisim Peretz to do their bidding. Besides them, Moshe Ben Zaken was appointed director general of the Ministry of Finance. Ben Zaken is a prominent Likud activist from Ashdod, one of Regev’s inner circle. In addition, the head of the Infrastructures Administration in the ministry was replaced by someone described there as "more compliant." The same applied to the head of the Public Transport Authority, and the list goes on.

Drucker’s report is further, decisive evidence that Regev is not worthy of serving as minister of transport. The damage to the economy of the crisis in Israel’s transport system is put at some NIS 40 billion a year, but instead of trying to overcome the crisis through long-term programs and projects to provide relief for the public, Regev and her people are using the state budget to maintain and increase their strength in the Likud, and approaches to the ministry are answered in accordance with how close those making the approach are to the minister. If Regev had any public legitimacy, despite the criticism aimed at her in the past eighteen months, that is now gone, and the law enforcement authorities need to examine whether what Drucker exposed amounts to criminal conduct.

The response on Regev’s behalf to the "Hamakor" ("The Source") investigation states: "This is a case of a collection of lies, unfounded claims, half truths, and distortion of reality. It is regrettable that you based yourselves on the testimony of Yonatan, a former employee, who stole documents from the Ministry of Transport to prepare a slanderous and false investigative report against the minister of transport. The way that matters were presented in the program was distorted, skewed, negligent, tendentiously edited, and had no connection to reality and the facts. We checked all the claims raised, one by one, and they were found to be factually incorrect, and we have documents that disprove them all. We suggest that you should consider whether to publish them, and that you should examine yourselves and the truth of the claims.

"Minister Regev’s performance in developing infrastructure, advancing the transport system in Israel by air, sea and land, through the strenuous work on the ground by her, by the ministry’s professionals, and by the companies subordinate to the Ministry of Transport, speaks for itself. The momentum of activity of the Ministry of Transports in advancing reforms, light rail lines, and transport solutions, is manifest on the ground.

"The wretched, mendacious attempt to create an imagined bias towards "Likud" cities is ridiculous. The facts show that the minister of transport, the director general of the Ministry of Transport, and the professionals in the Ministry of Transport and in the infrastructure companies, routinely meet with city mayors or their representatives of the left and the right, from the periphery and the center, Jewish and not Jewish, to advance transport projects for the benefit of the entire public, out of businesslike considerations only."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 26, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Miri Regev  credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
Miri Regev credit: Amit Shabi, Yedioth Ahronoth
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