Retired Judge Yosef Shapira sworn in as Israel`s eighth state comptroller
Publicized: July 4, 2012
In the presence of the President, Knesset Speaker, Prime Minister, head of opposition and Knesset members, former state comptrollers and Judges Lindenstrauss, Ben Porat and Goldberg, and other important guests, former Jerusalem district court judge Yosef Shapira was sworn in today as the State of Israel`s eighth comptroller.
Judge Shapira was elected for the position two months ago, in the third round of elections. The comptroller`s swearing-in was pushed off for two days due to the passing of former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said, ”The institution of comptroller has turned into a fourth independent government authority, useful and strong; the body which monitors during the moment of truth, when events occur. The efficacy of the state comptroller institution has proved itself beyond every doubt in connection with the Carmel forest fire disaster. Upon hearing the results of the disaster verified, it was the government which requested investigation by the state comptroller, as the institution most seeming to hold a systematic examination of the failure. Delegitimizing the comptroller`s reports is inappropriate. The comptroller reports are life-saving reports, and must be regarded as such.” Rivlin added, ”from now on, the process of monitoring during the moment of truth and correcting mistakes will be a central part of the comptroller`s work. The wheel cannot be rolled backwards. No government body or institution can dispute the comptroller`s authority in the moment of truth.”
Chairman of the State Control Committee, MK Uri Ariel, said, ”Internal monitoring of omissions, negligence and mistakes must be pitiless. Not in order to settle a score with someone, but in order to lift Israeli society to a very high standard. In this way alone can we bring change in society, in the democratic culture and in personal responsibility.” MK Ariel, a “kohen” (of priestly descent), completed his words with the priestly blessing for the new comptroller.
The entering comptroller, former judge Yosef Shapira, said, ”I will fight fearlessly against corruption on every level.” According to him, ”A phenomenon exists which prevents decision-making, due to fear of criticism.” Regarding the social protest, Shapira said, ”I was born in 1945, my parents came to Israel before World War II and the Holocaust from Zionist motives. I grew up during the austerity period in Israel. Last summer, the social protest, which is a good omen, began. The call for social justice is proof that the Israeli public is not apathetic. And yet, everyone is required to respect the Knesset, both the government authorities and the civilian. I sat in judgment for many years, where the fate of defendants was sealed and their freedoms denied. In monitoring the state, the study must be deepened to reach the truth of reality, and not make do with the legal truth. In the state comptroller`s report, a man`s liberty is not restricted, except in the name of his good name. Every case must be looked at with the deepest scrutiny. Precisely because of the power given to us, we must act with humility. Sharp and determined criticism does not conflict with fairness; the two can coexist.” The comptroller invited citizens of the state to turn to him and assist him in his role as representative of public complaints.
The comptroller completed his address with several sentences in Arabic. His words drew a small storm amongst some of the MKs.
In the swearing-in ceremony, a delegation from the Australian Parliament was present, led by the Australian Speaker of Parliament.
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