After nine months on the job, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira leveled harsh criticism at his predecessor, Micha Lindenstrauss. In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, published Monday, Shapira said he has different priorities and plays by different rules.
"I am dealing with a complex inheritance," Shapira told the newspaper. "We are trying to rehabilitate what went on here. My views are entirely different from those of my predecessor; so is my approach to the essence of the position. I'll give you an example: Lindenstrauss gave an interview before he began his term. I waited nine months.
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"Over the past seven years the (State Comptroller's) Office has seen 10 director generals and deputy director generals. A void was created. There was internal squabbling between the divisions which disrupted (the daily work)," Shapira claimed.
The new comptroller said Lindenstrauss "gave himself the liberty" to intervene in issues "I would not have gotten involved in. I would not have launched an investigation into the Turkish flotilla affair. This is what the Turkel Commission was established for."
'Surprising and disappointing.' Lindenstrauss (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Asked by Yedioth whether he was appointed due to his ties with prominent politicians, Shapira said "(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu did not appoint me. The initiative actually came from the opposition – from Roni Bar-On and Dalia Itzik. During most of my conversation with Netanyahu we exchanged childhood memories from Jerusalem. Towards the end of our talk he asked me what I plan to do as state comptroller. I told him I want to focus on the economy and society, but that first of all I want to take care of the weak."
Shapira denied rumors that he had "auditioned" for the comptroller position during an intimate dinner with Netanyahu and his wife Sara. "We did not have dinner, and Sara was not involved," he said.
'New approach.' Shapira (Archive photo: Alex Kolomoisky, Yedioth Ahronoth)
Former State Comptroller Lindenstrauss said in response to the interview: "I find it hard to believe that these words came out of Shapira's mouth. During our conversations he made an effort to stress just how much he appreciates the manner in which I led the State Comptroller's Office. I have never heard one critical comment from him about any specific issue. This is why it is both surprising and disappointing to hear this for the first time on the pages of a newspaper. But every man has his own style.
"(Shapira's) comments indicate a complete lack of understanding of the role of the state comptroller in this millennium. I fear that the passive approach, as was expressed in the comptroller's remarks, may leave out the moral basis for criticism and severely damage its effectiveness," the former comptroller added.
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