Zelekha: Israel most corrupt nation in West

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Israel’s Accountant General Yaron Zelekha said Monday that Israel is the most corrupt nation in the Western world, but most of its civil service workers are honest and provide quality service to the citizens of Israel.

“The State of Israel is more corrupt than it might appear to an observer from the outside. The situation in the country is serious and requires reinforced supervision, inspection and control mechanisms,” Zelekha said. “Israel won 34th place on the World Corruption Index. We're lucky that the researchers are unaware of the entire truth.”

Zelekha referred to a Global Corruption Report for 2006 published by Transparency International that ranked Israel 34 out of 163 countries in corruption. The three countries considered most corrupt were Iraq, Myanmar and Haiti.

Speaking to students at Tel Aviv Academic College, Zelekha said that despite recent corruption scandals, however, he is optimistic because law enforcement authorities are dealing with the problems in an efficient, determined and brave fashion.

"Contrary to the public impression, I am very optimistic. The problem of corruption in the country is very serious, and we are for all practical purposes, the most corrupt country in the Western world. This has been determined by international organizations," Zelekha said.

Zelekha added, however, that “this is part of the healing process. I am convinced that the problem, as difficult as it may be, will be solved for the best.”

Over the past few months, Zelekha has spoken out and attempted to uncover several instances of corruption in the public sector in Israel, including within the Finance Ministry and the Tax Authority. Zelekha’s fight against corruption has placed him under extreme pressure from criminal and other elements which has included death threats to him and his family. These threats prompted the police to increase the security around his home in Ramat Gan, and placing a security guard to protect him at all times.

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