Knesset Summary – Summer 2011
With the conclusion of the summer 2011 Knesset session, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) believes it must warn against disturbing trends prevalent in the current Knesset and the promotion of legislation with severe repercussions for human rights. During this just-completed Knesset session, we have witnessed a slew of bills which, if passed, would infringe on the entire range of human rights and, with them, the very foundations of Israeli democracy.
These bills will harm (amongst other basic rights) freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of dissent of Israeli citizens and residents, especially those whose opinions are currently viewed unfavorably by the political majority. Additionally, the current Knesset session saw numerous attempts to harm civil society organizations, first and foremost human rights groups, which are an integral layer in the social fabric of any democracy. See, for example: the Anti-Boycott Law, the proposed committees of inquiry to investigate certain NGOs, a variety of bills limiting donations to and the activity of these organizations, new anti-libel legislation, and so on.
At the same time, we were introduced to a series of bills and initiatives that would harm various minority groups in Israel. These primarily affect Israel’s Arab minority, but also migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and others. See, for example: the Tribunal on Immigration and Status Affairs, the Infiltrators Law, the law binding migrant workers to their employers, administrative demolition of homes at the expense of the builder, preference in civil service hiring given to veterans of Israeli military service, and more.
Additional legislation promoted in the last session continues to undermine basic social rights in Israel. These include: the National Housing Committees Law and the Planning and Building Law, neither of which are committed to nor promote social interests and social rights in the areas of housing and equality. Similarly, we have seen the undermining of basic civil rights in criminal procedure, including: the prohibition of meeting with specific attorneys, the broadening of situations in which bodily searches and identification procedures may be employed, and expanded police authority in search and seizures.
Despite the broad social protests across the country, the government’s desire to privatize its basic obligations toward its citizens has increased, as is evident in the law transferring policing powers to municipal inspectors and the Wisconsin Plan Bill that seeks to privatize public employment services.
While facing this considerable list of harmful legislation that would violate human rights, ACRI has been involved in various legislative initiatives promoting the protection of human rights, for example: bills promoting dental care for the elderly and long-term nursing care, the required wearing of identification tags by police officers, the struggle against raising the retirement age for women, etc.
Click here to download ACRI’s summary of the Knesset’s summer session 2011 – including anti-democratic initiatives, legislation violating human and civil rights, and – to maintain some optimism – also legislation and initiatives that promote human and civil rights.