Jerusalem24 – An anti-corruption watchdog on Tuesday gave Israel its worst-ever score in a global ranking of how countries tackle government graft.
The Times of Israel reported that, Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures the perception of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, gave Israel a score of 59 out of 100. It received a score of 60 in 2020, and scored 64 in 2016.
The highest scores are awarded to countries adjudged to have the lowest level of corruption.
Israel is ranked 36th out of 180 countries in the 2021 report, after ranking 28th five years ago. Among 37 OECD countries, Israel is ranked 29th, dropping four places compared to the 2020 report.
The grades, the organization says, are derived from each country’s “perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople,” based on data collected from 13 organizations, including the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and Freedom House.
Nili Arad, the chairwoman of Transparency International Israel, said this year’s index indicates that “corruption in Israel is strengthening.”
She said the increase was particularly worrying in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, “when an extra measure of transparency is needed as protection against damaging the foundations of democracy.”
Israel’s low ranking is a “warning sign” signaling the potential of a move toward becoming a corrupt state, she added.
In 2019, a serving Israeli prime minister was indicted for the first time, on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Benjamin Netanyahu, now opposition chairman, has denied the allegations against him, and his trial is expected to drag into 2022 as plea bargain negotiations fell apart earlier this week.
On the same day that Transparency International published its 2021 index, Shas party leader and former minister Aryeh Deri pleaded guilt to tax offenses at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that also saw him resign from the Knesset.
Opposition MKs Yaakov Litzman, David Bitan and Haim Katz are also each facing possible indictments for various graft offenses they committed during their careers in public service.