Update: Top Anti-Democratic Legislative Initiatives

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ACRI LIST OF TOP ANTI-DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

Last updated: 8 March 2011

Bills Being Promoted with Government Support

 

  • Nakba Bill

 

2009; MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
According to this bill, persons publicly marking Nakba Day as a day of mourning will be sentenced and sent to prison. The government endorsed the bill but, in the wake of public protests, its wording was changed so that organizations and institutions marking Nakba Day shall be denied public funds. Even this “minimized” version still illegally impairs on the freedom of expression, as the political majority bans a certain political view.
 
16 March 2010: The bill passed the first reading.

 
Status: The bill is expected to be discussed in the Knesset Constitution Committee on March 14, ahead of its second-third reading.
 

  • Anti-Incitement Bill

 
2009; MK Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi)
 
An amendment of the existing Penalty Code, according to which persons publishing a call that denies the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state shall be imprisoned. This is an extension of an existing criminal offence, and it intends to incriminate a political view that another political group does not accept.
 
27 May 2009: The bill passed a preliminary reading.
 
Status: The bill and is expected to be discussed in the Knesset Constitution Committee ahead of its first reading.
 

  • Pledge of Allegiance Bill

 
2009; MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
According to this bill, any foreigner seeking to become an Israeli citizen will have to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic and Zionist state, and serve a term of military or national service.
 
1 May 2010: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
October 2010: The government turned its decision and decided to endorse the bill.
 
Status: Since the government announced its endorsement of this bill, it has not been promoted. It may be brought back for discussion in Knesset with an addition that enforces the same demands on Jews and non-Jews.
 

  • Infiltration Bill

 
2010; Government
 
The bill stipulates, among other things, that infiltrators and persons who assist them may be sentenced to 5 to 7 years in prison, according to their country of origin. This bill follows the trend of delegitimizing human rights and aid organizations and individuals who help refugees and migrant workers.
 
December 2010: An update version of the bill was published. In the new version, the bill takes the form of an amendment to an existing law, rather than a new law.
 
Status: The updated version is expected to be brought for a first reading in the coming months.
 

  • Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott Bill

 
2010; MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) et al
 
According to the original version of this bill, persons who initiate, promote, or publish material that might serve as grounds for imposing a boycott are committing a crime may be ordered to compensate parties economically affected by that boycott, including fixed reparations of 30,000 shekels, without an obligation of the plaintiffs to prove damages. If the felon is a foreign citizen, he may be banned from entering for a period of 10 years or from doing business in Israel; and if it is a foreign state, Israel may not repay the debts it owes that state, and use the money to compensate offended parties; that state may additionally be banned from conducting business affairs in Israel. The measures shall apply one year retroactively.
 
The narrow version which eventually passed the first reading does not include clauses pertaining to foreign citizens and states. It also does not include anyone who provided information but rather anyone who actively partakes in a boycott.
 
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected the chapters pertaining to foreign citizens and states, probably out of consideration for Israel’s foreign relations, and also rejected the retroactive clause.
 
5 July 2010: Bill in original version was presented in Knesset.
14 July 2010: Bill in original version passed a preliminary reading.
15 February 2011:  The Constitution Committee voted in favor of the narrowed version of the bill.
7 March 2011: Bill passed its first reading in the plenum.
 
Status: Will be further discussed in the Constitution Committee and prepared for its second-third (final) vote in the plenum.
 

  • Acceptance to Communities Bill

 
2009; MKs David Rotem, Israel Hason, Shay Hermesh
 
According to this bill, admission committees of villages and communities may turn down a candidate if the committee decides he or she “fail to meet the fundamental views of the community”, its social fabric, and so on. The bill primarily intends to deny ethnic minorities’ access to Jewish communities set up on predominantly public lands, offering the possibility to reject anyone who does not concur with committee’s positions, religion, political views, and so on. It should be noted that before this law was proposed, ACRI filed a related petition against the practice, which is still pending before the High Court.
 
11 February 2009: Bill presented in Knesset.
21 July 2010: Bill passed it first hearing in the plenum.
2 February 2011: The Constitutional Committee voted in a second-third reading in favor of an amended version of the bill. As part of a proposed compromise between Speaker Rivlin and the MKs who proposed the law, amendments included applying the law to the Negev and Galilee regions alone; and applying the law to communities of up to 400 family units instead of the original 500. ACRI finds both utterly unsatisfactory.
 
Status: Bill expected to be brought to the plenum for a second-third (final) vote. It should be noted that ACRI has filed a petition against this practice. The petition is still pending a High Court decision.
 

  • Bill on Revoking Citizenship for Persons Convicted of Terrorism or Espionage

 
MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
When citizenship is denied, a series of basic rights that follow from it are denied too. The Israeli Penal Code already specifies ways of dealing with persons convicted of terrorism or espionage.

10 January 2010:  The bill was approved by the Knesset Interior Committee with two proposed amendments. First, that it will not be permissible to leave a person without citizenship. Second, that the decision to revoke citizenship will require the approval of the Attorney-General.  Israel’s General Security Services have expressed opposition to this bill.
25 January 2010: The amended version was rejected by the Knesset Interior Committee.
7 March 2011: The original version passed the first reading in the plenum.
 
Status: The bill is expected to be brought back to the Interior Committee in order to prepare it for a second-third (final) vote in the plenum.
 

  • Bill to Protect Israel’s Values

 
MK Uri Ariel (National Union)
 
According to this bill, organizations whose activities “harm the State of Israel as a Jewish state” shall not be permitted to operate in Israel and will be shut down.
 
1 June 2009: Bill was presented in Knesset.
7 November 2010: The bill was debated in the Ministerial Committee. It was decided that this bill shall be revised with the approval of the Justice Ministry before further debate in the Knesset.
 
Status: The Justice Ministry is reviewing the bill before further debate in the Knesset.
 

  • Preference in Services for Those who Served in the Military

 
Mk David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
According to this bill preference in housing, education, and other public services shall be granted to individuals who have served in the Israeli military or completed national service. Currently, Arab citizens and others are exempt from military service and can voluntarily choose to carry out national service.
 
25 May 2010: Bill presented in Knesset.
5 July 2010: Bill passed preliminary reading.
 

Status: The bill is expected to be debated in the Knesset’s Employment, Welfare and Health Committee together with a government-sponsored bill concerning incentives for those who completed military service.
 

  • Preference in Civil Service for Those who Served in Military

 
MK Hamad Amar (Yisreal Beitenu)
 
According to this bill, citizens who have completed military or national service will give given preference when applying for civil servant posts.
 
The bill discriminates against ethnic minorities and other individuals exempt by law from military service, and stands in contradiction to the value of equal access to employment.
 
26 January 2011: Bill passed preliminary reading.
 
 

Bills not Promoted due to Current Lack of

Government Support

 

  • Bill on MKs’ Pledge of Allegiance

 
MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu)

According to this bill, all MKs will be required to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as Jewish a democratic state, to its laws, symbols, and national anthem. The bill intends to delegitimize and even practically prevent minority groups from partaking in the Israeli democratic process.
 
6 June 2010: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 
Status: Not promoted due to lack of coalition agreement.
 

  • Government-initiated bills intended to restrict the Knesset’s Opposition

 
Seven MKs may split from a Knesset faction to establish a new faction – not one-third of the original faction members; increasing the quorum needed for budget-related bills to 55 MKs; if after a vote of no-confidence vote is endorsed by a Knesset majority, and the new candidate for prime minister should fail to form a coalition-based government, then the ousted government should regain its seat; a cabinet member who quits the Knesset shall be replaced by another on his faction list.
 
Status: Passed its first reading. Not being promoted at present.
 

  • Cinema Bill

 
According to this bill, the entire crew of a film that seeks public funding will have to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as Jewish a democratic state, its laws, symbols, etc.
 
9 May 2010: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
12 May 2010: Bill failed its preliminary reading.
 
 

  • Bill on Ousting MKs

 
Mk Danny Danon (Likud)
 
According to this bill, an MK may be ousted by a majority of 80 MKs if he or she expressed their opposition to Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, incited to racism, or supported an armed struggle against the State of Israel.
 
Status: Not approved by the government.
 

  • Bill to Bar Political Murderers, Terrorists from Voting

 
MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
According to this bill, the murderer of an Israeli Prime Minister and those who committed acts of terror or sent others to commit acts of terror will not be allowed to vote for Knesset elections.
 
26 April 2010: Bill was presented in Knesset.
1 May 2010: Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 

  • Bill on Banning Veils in Public

 
2010; MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima)
 
According to this bill, it would be illegal to cover one’s face in public, under penalty of imprisonment.
 
July 2010: Bill presented in Knesset.
30 January 2011: Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 

  • Bill on Funding to Cultural Institutions

MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
The bill is intended to deny state funds from cultural intuitions that hire artists who had not served in the Israeli military.
13 February 2011: Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 

Bills which the Government has yet to Endorse or Reject

 
 

  • Associations Law – Amendment

 
According to which an NGO that is involved with the filing of suits abroad against senior Israeli politicians and army officers will be shut down. A new initiative of this type will not be given the status of an NGO.
 
15 June 2010: Bill presented in Knesset
 

  • Pledge of Allegiance for Civil Servants and Council Members


MK Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
According to this bill, members of local and city councils as well as some civil servants will be obliged to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
 
20 October 2010: Bill was presented in Knesset.
 

  • Denying Entry into Israel


MK Yariv Levin (Likud)
 
According to this bill, entry into Israel will be denied to anyone involved in boycotts against Israel or lawsuits against military or government officials. The bill has yet to be presented in Knesset.
 

  • Bill against Slandering the State and its Institutions

 
MKs Othniel Shneller, Yaacov Katz and Tzion Finian
 
The bill enables filing a libel suite and even making criminal charges against anyone who slanders the state of Israel and its institutions. It also allows an individual to file a civil suit against those who slandered the community to which the individual is affiliated with. The explanations clauses of the bill point to the main reasoning behind this initiative: To allow law suits against organizations that publish material concerning alleged illegal actions taken by the army.
 
7 February 2011: Bill was first presented.
 

  • Bill on Taxation of Organizations receiving Funds from Foreign Entities

 
MK Fania Kirshenbaum
 
According to the bill, organizations that receive funding from foreign state entities will not be given the taxation break commonly given to NGOs and their income will be taxed at 45%. Exempt from this bill are organizations that also receive funding from the State (leaving out many welfare organizations, for example).
 
7 February 2011: Bill was first presented.
 

  • Bill on Dissolving Companies that Refuse to Operate in Any Part of the State

 
MK Yaacov Katz (National Union) et al.
 
According to this bill, any company that refuses to provide services or buy services from a specific region of Israel is harmful of all Israeli citizens. If the company will sign a contract whereby it commits that it will not sell, provide services or operate in a specific region, the court will be given the authority to dissolve the company.
 
The bill’s intention is to operate against companies that refuse to operate in the Occupied Territories and/or refuse to purchase settlement products and provide services there.
 
7 February 2011: Bill was first presented.
 
 

Anti-democratic bills that Passed in Knesset

 

  • Bill on Funds from Foreign State Entities

 
MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) et al.
 
According to the this bill in its original version, any person or group receiving funding from a foreign state entity must register with the Party Registrar and immediately report each contribution, mark every document in this spirit, and state at the opening of any remark they make that they are funded by a foreign state. Those who defy the law will be subject to strict penalties.
 
18 November 2009: Bill passed first reading in Knesset plenum.
2 February  2011: Watered-down version of the bill approved by Constitution Committee.
21 February 2011: Bill passed second-third (final) reading in plenum. According to the final and more limited version of the bill, NGOs supported by foreign entities will be required to submit financial reports every quarter (i.e. four times a year instead of an annual report), and in some cases will need to publicly specify that their work is supported by a foreign country.
 
Though the bill was approved in its watered-down version, its proponents have declared that they will try in the next Knesset session to advance those clauses that were left out of the bill this time round.
 

  • Bill Pardoning Protesters of Gaza Disengagement

 
MK and Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) et al.
 
Though legislation that eases punitive measures against persons who exercised their right to political protest is welcome in principle, this particular bill is problematic because it makes a distinction between political and ideological activists of various groups. Instead of promoting a general principles of “going easy” on protesters, this bill was promoted by the current political majority in favor of their electorate alone.
 
Status: The Knesset passed the bill in July 2010; a petition against it is currently pending before the High Court.
 

  • Abu Basma Bill on Regional Council Elections

 
This bill, which passed in Knesset, includes an amendment to the law concerning elections in regional councils, allowing the Interior Minister to postpone indefinitely democratic elections in new regional councils. It specifically relates to the case of the Abu Basma, a regional council comprised of Bedouin villages in the Negev that was recognized six years ago but is still being administered by an appointed representative of the Interior Minister, not by elected representatives of the Bedouin community.
 
On April 27, ACRI submitted a petition to the High Court against this law, together with partner organizations and local residents, demanding that the Court instruct the Interior Minister to facilitate elections immediately, claiming that the law represents a grave infringement on democratic values and the specific obligation Israel holds to ensuring regular and transparent democratic elections.
 
February 9: In a High Court hearing on the case, it was declared that elections be held no later than November 2012.
 
 

Bills aimed at Weakening the Supreme Court

 
 

  • Basic Law: Constitution Court

 
MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu)
 
The High Court serves de facto as the country’s constitutional court. The proposed bill aims at establishing a new constitution court through a series of acts, including that justices be obliged to pledge allegiance to a Jewish state; that votes will be unanimous; and other criteria that harms separation of powers, human rights and democratic values.
 
1 April 2010: Bill presented in Knesset.
 
Status: Not being promoted due to lack of coalition agreement.

  • Bill to Disallow High Court from Ruling on Citizenship Law


MK David Rotem and 44 more MKs
 
According to the bill, the High Court will not be authorized to rule on the Citizenship Law (Temporary Order), which in its current form prevents Palestinians from the Territories from attaining citizenship through family ties to Israeli citizens and residents. This bill was devised in the wake of petitions to the High Court challenging this policy. Though the court has yet to make a final ruling, MKs are concerned it may rule in the future that the policy is illegal, and so the bill is intended to bypass the High Court and set the policy as a regular law.
 
11 May 2009: Bill presented in Knesset.
20 December 2009: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 
Status: Not promoted due to lack of coalition agreement.
 

  • Bill Banning High Court from Ruling on Security-Related Matters


MK Yaacov Katz (National Union) et al
 
According to the bill, the High Court may not set abiding rulings on matters related to security and threats to human life. It may state its position, which will not bind the government.
 
25 January 2010: Bill presented in Knesset.
30 May 2010: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 

  • Bill to Defer High Court Rulings on Legality of Bills

 
MK Yaacov Katz (National Union) et al
 
According to the bill, if the High Court rules that a particular bill is unconstitutional and therefore should be annulled, the ruling will come into effect only after a year passes since the ruling was made.
 
2 February 2010: Bill presented in Knesset.
18 October 2010: The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill.
 
 
 

Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry

 
 
On January 5, the Knesset voted in favor of establishing two parliamentary inquiry committees: One, (MK Fania Kirshenbaum, Yisrael Beitenu) inquiring into the funding of Israeli organizations “accused of working to prosecute IDF soldiers and officers abroad”; and the second (MK Danny Danon, Likud) into “the involvement of foreign governments and bodies in funding actions against the State and in attempts to purchase its lands”.
 
The next step of establishing such a committee is to bring the initiative for a detailed discussion in the Knesset House Committee and then back to a plenum vote. According to Knesset guidelines, a parliamentary inquiry committee does not actually hold the relevant tools to conduct an extensive investigation and its conclusions are not binding by law. It does not have the authority, for example, to obligate citizens to provide testimonies nor demand that they introduce documents and such other material. However, the fact that its authority is rather limited does not rule out the threat it poses by the mere fact that within the halls of power certain organizations and individuals are singled out and their reputation is smeared and labeled ‘disloyal’.
 
31 January 2011: Knesset House Committee voted in favor of establishing the committees.
 
Status: The issue was scheduled to be brought to the plenum for a final vote on February 28, but was postponed after its majority support was put at stake.

After this delay, the vote was returned to the agenda and is currently scheduled to be brought to the plenum on March 16.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Racism and Discrimination, The Right to Equality

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