The Netanya municipality was scheduled to receive the Interior Ministry’s Proper Financial Management Award, which will be given this Monday in a ceremony at the Jerusalem Convention Center to dozens of local municipalities that have met the ministry’s standards. This years the list includes Yavne, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Ata and Hod Hasharon, among many others. But at the last-minute this beautiful, coastal city, a third of the way between Tel Aviv and Haifa, was taken off the list.
Netanya has been an award recipient for the past consecutive four years, and the staff at City Hall told Clacalist they were frankly surprised at the decision to withdraw them from the list. A Calcalist inquiry with the Interior Ministry revealed that the decision came after the arrest of Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar on suspicions of corruption. Israel police arrested Feirberg and several of her colleagues and relatives on September 7, 2016 on charges of bribery, fraud, and abuse of power. Apparently the ministry preferred to err on the side of caution, especially since the current Interior Minster, Aryeh Deri (Shas) has himself served a hefty stint in prison for embezzlement.
The Interior Minister’s Proper Financial Management Award is given once a year to dozens of municipalities in Israel that show proper financial management and responsible behavior on the part of senior officials in local government. The parameters tested include deficits, income, expenses and rates of real estate tax collections. Other areas include proper awarding of bids.
Although it does not spell it out, the rules for the award most likely do not allow for the recipients to be under police investigation.