The Nativ Liaison Bureau, an agency within the Prime Minister's Office tasked with helping Jews in the former Soviet Union make aliyah, has overstepped its mandate and engaged in improper practices between 2009 and 2010, faults a new state comptroller report from Sunday.
State Comptroller and Ombudsman Yosef Shapira lambasted the agency over several instances in which it had allegedly abused its powers and shirked its legal obligations. He also criticized it for its lack of transparency. According to Shapira, this behavior extended to the hiring of envoys for overseas positions and consultants and to the recruitment of other employees. Moreover, Nativ essentially allowed Ariel University Center of Samaria (later renamed Ariel University) to circumvent the bidding process when the agency sought to create an overseas studies program for prospective immigrants. This denied other academic institution a fair shot at hosting the students.
"The report shows that the agency lacks clear prerogatives and a defined mission," Shapira writes. "Although a cabinet resolution instructs the government to devise a comprehensive policy on the ties between the state and the Jewry of the Commonwealth of Independent States, no such policy was in place by the time the audit was complete; as a result, the agency lacked clear guidelines that would have shown whether the agency's activities were in line with the government's policies."
Shapira further said those who were considered eligible for immigration to Israel could mistakenly interpret the agency's activities as officially condoning the emigration from Israel, presumably because of its overseas operations.
The agency's ability to meet its goals and effectively do its job -- as a function of its structure and modus operandi -- had not been a subject of review since 1998, says Shapira. "Such scrutiny is particularly needed in light of the changes the organization had undergone during that period: the shifting target audience; the overlap the agency has had with other state-run bodies in the CIS; and the increase in the agency's budget."
Shortly after the review came out, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement saying that "Nativ will study the report and follow its recommendations."