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Updated: 18.12.2012 15:51
Aktuelle Meldungen im neuen LabourNet Germany

Erneuter Behinderungsversuch gegen das Workers Advice Center

Der zuständige Behördenvertreter für die Zulassung von Nichtkommerziell orientierten Vereinigungen setzte Anfang Oktober die Serie von Behinderungen im Zulassungsprozess des WAC fort, die nun schon seit einem Jahr andauert. Dabei setzte er sich auch über Absprachen hinweg, die der Rechtsvertreter des WAC mit dem stellvertretenden Behördenleiter getroffen hatte. Die (englische) Protest-Presseerklärung "Israeli Registrar of NPA's new attempt to take control of the WAC" vom 5. Oktober 2005

Israeli Registrar of NPA's new attempt to take control of the WAC

Worker's Advice Center (WAC-Ma'an) Position Paper regarding the Registrar of Non-Profit Association's threat to dismantle WAC. Oct. 2. 2005

The Registrar of Non-Profit Associations (NPAs) in Israel, Attorney Yaron Kedar, is continuing to harass the Worker's Advice Center (WAC). Even though WAC is completely legal, and even though its activities in promoting workers' rights have gained wide recognition and encouragement, the Registrar's Office continues in its attempts to control WAC and bring the Center's diverse activities to an end.

At the end of September 2005, negotiations between Deputy Registrar Attorney Avital Schreiber and WAC's representative, Attorney Ofir Katz, ran aground. The Registrar's intention to appoint an external auditor to direct WAC reflects a withdrawal from the understandings that were reached between the parties in February 2005.

In November 2004, the Registrar decided to dismantle WAC unless it agreed to a "recovery program" and to the appointment of an external auditor, who would in practice become the Center's manager. This unreasonable decision was based on the findings presented in a report by Accountant Yomtov Bilu who investigated WAC over a period of three years. Bilu claimed to have found serious irregularities in WAC's activities, claiming especially that the Center is not fulfilling its stated objectives: assisting workers. Bilu claimed that WAC is being used to channel funds and resources to a political party: the Organization for Democratic Action (ODA).

WAC rejected each and every one of the Registrar's claims and the findings presented in the report of Accountant Y. Bilu. WAC had consistently claimed that from the beginning there was no justification for the investigation, the "recovery program" or the appointment of an external auditor. The Center operates independently in accordance with the Law of NPAs, and its members determine the direction of its work. It operates according to the objectives it set itself and reports on its diverse activities, including financial reports approved by an accountant, are sent each year to the Registrar.

The Center's activities in promoting worker issues, especially raising the issue of Arab workers in Israel, have won widespread public recognition in Israel and around the world. In order to clarify what this means, we present below a number of initiatives and activities implemented by WAC during the ten months that have passed since the Registrar's decision:

A: Agricultural workers: A meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the placing of workers in the agricultural sector. Invitation to appear before the Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers and widespread media publicity for WAC's work in placing Arab Israeli workers in the sector.

B: The Wisconsin Plan. WAC has initiated the creation of a national committee of jobseekers from Nazareth, Wadi Ara and East Jerusalem to monitor the implementation of the plan and the hardships it causes to thousands of unemployed people. WAC is also a partner in a coalition of social organizations dealing with this issue.

C: Construction workers - placing hundreds of workers in new construction companies. Appearance before the Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers, renewal of the connection with the Contractors' Association.

D: International contacts - A WAC representative was invited as spokesperson for the Israeli Forum at the Mediterranean Social Forum in Barcelona (June 2005). Strengthening of connections with trade unions in Europe and the US.

In addition, it must be noted that ODA, the party which allegedly received funds from WAC (which never happened, and nothing in the findings suggests that this serious allegation has any foundation in reality), is a registered party in Israel which has never been convicted of breaking any law regarding party funding. The State Comptroller, who was asked by the Registrar to check whether funds had been passed from WAC to ODA on the basis of the investigation findings (Bilu's report), refused to open an investigation and notified the Registrar that there was no basis for such investigations.

Given this background, WAC declared that it would not accept the "recovery plan" proposed by the Registrar's Office, and would not accept the appointment of an external auditor since such steps would constitute a serious infringement of its independence. On the other hand, WAC's Attorney, Ofir Katz, has negotiated with the Registrar in an attempt to find a formulation that would enable the Center to continue to operate freely. The understandings that were reached in February between Attorney Katz and the Deputy Registrar included WAC's agreement to cooperate with the Registrar in finding and correcting any specific technical problems in the way it is managed. (In fact these have already been sorted out.)

However, without any explanation the Registrar has recently decided to withdraw his readiness to be party to such an arrangement, and has notified WAC in writing that he intends to appoint an external auditor with far-reaching powers. For example, Paragraph 3: "The Center will not pay expenses or sign any agreement to pay expenses of over NIS7000 (US$1600) without the written consent in advance of the auditor." Paragraph 5: "The auditor will ensure that the Center is not breaking any laws concerning (the defense of) foreign workers or illegal foreign workers." Paragraph 6: "The auditor will form an opinion concerning whether any need exists to replace any functionaries in the statutory institutions of WAC or its management, and WAC will operate according to his instructions."

The significance of this decision is clear - the Registrar wants to take control of WAC and prevent it from working to promote workers' rights. This should not surprise anyone familiar with the history between the Center and the Registrar. Ever since WAC's founders approached the Registrar to register WAC as an NPA in June 1998, the Center and those working in it have been subject to political harassment. At that time, Amiram Boget was the Registrar, who is associated with the far right. Unfortunately, the new Registrar, Yaron Kedar, continues this harassment.

The hundreds of workers who have joined WAC see it as having a unique place in the struggle for workers' rights and promoting equal opportunities for Arab workers. Any attempts to undermine the legitimacy of this work are completely groundless. They testify that the Registrar's intentions derive from ulterior considerations.

WAC stands firm in its decision to protect workers' rights to organize in the framework of the Center. We call upon all those who support this basic right and see, as we do, the dangers of ongoing harassment of WAC, to join us once again and demand with us:

End the witch-hunt against the Workers' Advice Center!

Seven years of political harassment is more than enough!

Let WAC, which has placed the issue of Arab workers in Israel on the public agenda, continue its activities!

Take part in WAC's campaign by doing one or more of the following:

- Send protest letters to the Israeli Embassy / Consulate in your Country

- Organize a protest in front of the local Israeli Embassy / Consulate

Send protest letters to the Israeli Authorities:

- Mr. Meni Mazuz - Attorney General of Israel, Ministry of Justice, c/o Foreign Relations : Fax: 972-2- 6261862 / Mail to: ForeignR@justice.gov.il

- Attorney Yaron Kedar - The Registrar of NPAs in Israel
POB 95464 Jerusalem 91999 Israel
Ph: +972-2-6546600, Fax: +972-2-6546671

Please send copies to: WAC - maan@maan.org.il


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