Update: Anti-Democratic Legislation Initiatives

Photo CC by Joshua PaquinPhoto CC by Joshua Paquin

In recent years, ACRI has been increasingly troubled by expanding assaults on Israel’s democratic values. Of great concern is the fact that one of the key arenas in which this takes place is the parliament itself – the very heart of democracy. Furthermore, the Knesset plenum and committees have frequently served as platforms for offensive and inciting discourse, mostly targeting ethnic and political minorities.

The attacks on Israel’s democracy are mainly characterized by attempts to silence social or political minorities’ views or public criticism; attempts to delegitimize political rivals, human rights organizations, and minorities; attempts to restrict parties with positions that do not coincide with the political majority’s views; and by presenting minorities as enemies of the State, in an attempt to legitimize the infringement on their civil and political rights.

ACRI closely monitors these legislation initiatives and works to stop them. Below is a list summarizing the top anti-democratic bills in the current Knesset – updated until 1 August 2012.

 

Summary of Anti-Democratic Knesset Legislation | Updated until 1 August 2012

 

Bills Passed in the Current Knesset

 

Law to Prevent Infiltration (government)

This law, an amendment to the existing Law to Prevent Infiltration, stipulates that asylum seekers and refugees, as well as their children, who enter Israel through the border with Egypt, could be imprisoned, without trial, for a minimum of three years and in some cases – indefinitely. Furthermore, every asylum seeker could be trialed in a criminal court and could receive a five-year prison sentence.

The original version of this bill stipulated that a refugee or asylum seeker found guilty of property damage – including minor offenses such as bicycle theft or graffiti – could receive a life sentence; furthermore, the previous version of the bill set a five-year prison sentence on those who offer any form of aid to refugees – and even fifteen years should a person persists in offering aid after being prosecuted.
In the final version of the law, the articles relating to criminal offenses and to aiding refugees were “softened” and limited only to persons who entered Israel without a permit and were caught carrying weapons or crossed the border in order to traffic in human beings or drugs.

However, even in its new version, this law is draconian and immoral, and its entire purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel. The law blatantly disregards Israel’s most basic commitments as a member of the community of nations and as a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Status: Passed final reading on 10 January 2012.

 

Law Preventing Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott (MK Ze’ev Elkin et al.)

This law, officially titled “Preventing Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott,” enables the filing of civil lawsuits against individuals who call for boycott of settlement products. The law also includes several sanctions that would primarily hurt NGOs or companies participating in a boycott: the loss of the NGOs’ “public institution” status and with it the tax-exempt status of donations made to these organizations, as well as the cancellation of benefits to companies or ventures participating in a boycott.

According to the original version of this law, anyone initiating, promoting, or publishing material that could serve as an informational basis for a boycott against Israeli products or interests would be guilty of a criminal and a civil offense. The offender would be liable for damages and would have to recompense parties injured by the boycott, as well as being subject to punitive damages of 30,000 NIS without proof of damage. If the offender were a foreign national, they would be barred from entering Israel for 10 years and from conducting business in Israel. As for foreign countries violating the law – Israel would not transfer monies owed to them, and could even compensate damaged parties through these frozen assets. To make matters worse, the law would apply retroactively one full year prior to its passage.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation debated the bill and rejected the provisions relating to foreign nationals and states, apparently out of concerns for Israel’s international relations, as well as the retroactive application of the legislation (Articles 5, 6, and 8). The revised bill was approved for first reading on 15 February 2011. A request for revision was heard on 28 February 2011, where an alternative text of the bill (prepared in conjunction with legal counsel and the Justice Ministry) was accepted. In this new text, reference to “criminal offense” was removed from the bill, and only someone actually calling for a boycott would be subject to the bill’s provisions, not people merely participating in it. An article was added to the bill stating that the government could disqualify companies participating in a boycott from taking part in government tenders. This new text of the bill passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum on 7 March 2011. In the explanatory notes to the bill, the sponsors declared that they would seek to expand the scope of the legislation and reintroduce the criminal offense provision into the text of the law.

On 27 June 2011, the bill was debated in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in preparation for its second-third reading. Bill sponsors and supporters added a new section containing a series of sanctions that would primarily hurt NGOs or companies participating in a boycott: the loss of the NGOs’ “public institution” status and with it the tax-exempt status of donations made to these organizations, as well as the cancellation of benefits to companies or ventures participating in a boycott – benefits established by law encouraging capital investment in companies, support for R&D, and state-sponsored loan guarantees. For example, a business publicly declaring that it would not buy supplies manufactured in the territories would be subject to lose its state-sponsored benefits.
Status: Passed final reading on 11 July 2011.

 

Entry into Israel Law – Amendment 21 (government)

This government-sponsored amendment sets limitations on work permits given to migrant workers residing in Israel. It restores the measure by which migrant workers are bound to a single employer, an arrangement deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, which went so far as to call it “a modern form of slavery.” The proposed amendment was initially added as a line item in the Economic Arrangements Law, but was separated from that legislation following the legal opinion of the Knesset’s legal adviser.

Status: Passed final reading on 16 May 2011.

 

Revoking Citizenship for Persons Convicted of Terrorism or Espionage (MK David Rotem)

The law authorizes the Minister of Interior and the courts to revoke citizenship of persons convicted of terrorism, espionage, or disloyalty. When citizenship is denied, a series of basic rights that follow from it are denied too. The bill was approved by the Knesset Interior Committee with two amendments: First, that it will not be permissible to leave a person state-less. 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.

This law infringes on the basic rights of Israeli citizens, since when citizenship (a basic right in and of itself) is denied, a series of basic rights that follow from it are denied as well. This, when Israel’s criminal law already includes legal tools for dealing with persons convicted of terrorism or espionage.

Status: Passed final reading on 28 March 2011.

 

The Nakba Law (MK Alex Miller)

According to the original version of this bill, persons publicly commemorating the Nakba Day as a day of mourning shall be sentenced and sent to prison. The government endorsed the bill, but in the wake of public protest an amended version was presented. The amended version does not target individuals, but rather municipalities, organizations, and public institutions.

Officially titled “Budget Foundations Law (Amendment 40) – Reducing Budget or Support for Activity Contrary to the Principles of the State,” this law authorizes the Minister of Finance to relinquish monetary support if the body or institution has made any payment towards an event or action that undermines the “existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” violates the symbols of the State, or marks the date of Israel’s establishment “as a day of mourning.”

The vague wording of the law, and the fact that it gives the Minister of Finance the power to determine its implementation, raises concerns that the law will be enforced in a discriminatory manner, which will enhance the already existing oppression of Arab citizens of Israel.

Status: Passed final reading on 22 March 2011.


Acceptance to Communities Law (MKS David Rotem, Israel Hasson, Shai Hermesh)

According to this law, acceptance committees to villages and communities may turn down a candidate if the committee decides he or she “fails 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. The amended version of the law limits the application of the law to the Negev and Galilee regions alone; and to communities of up to 400 family units (instead of 500 units in the original version).

Following the approval of the bill, ACRI submitted a principled petition on the matter, together with the Abraham Initiatives Fund and local residents from Misgav.

Status: Passed final reading on 22 March 2011.


Funding from Foreign State Entities (MK Ze’ev Elkin et al.)

Officially titled “Law on Disclosure Requirements for Recipients of Support from a Foreign State Entity;” according to the original version of this law, any person or group receiving funding from a foreign state entity must register with the Registrar of Parties 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.

According to the final version of this law, NGOs supported by foreign state entities will be required to submit financial reports every quarter (i.e. four times a year instead of an annual report), and if an advertising campaign is funded by a foreign state entity it must be stated within the framework of this campaign.

Despite claims made by the promoters of this law, as though it is intended to increase transparency – in practice its purpose is to delegitimize and curtail the activities of organizations that receive funds from, among other sources, foreign states. Though the Israeli law already makes reporting such donations imperative, this law expands the existing law and force certain civil organizations to mark their activities as subversive and illegitimate. Furthermore, the bill practically refers to the activities of specific civil groups, focusing on human rights organizations, implicitly incriminating them when compared with other bodies or individuals funded by foreign non-state entities.
Status: Passed final reading on 21 February 2011.

 

Extending Arrest of Persons Suspected of Security Offenses (government)

This law extends (by one year) the temporary order, which enables arresting suspects in security related offenses for longer periods without judicial oversight, as well as extending their arrest without their presence. The arrangement anchored in this temporary order, part of which was already disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2010, severely infringes on the right to due process and on the basic principles of Israeli criminal law. Because this law denies the most basic guarantees required for a fair interrogation, it opens the door to mistreatment of prisoners and even to the conviction of innocent people.

Status: Passed final reading on 20 December 2010.


Pardoning Protesters of Gaza Disengagement (MK Reuven Rivlin 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. A petition filed against the inequality that is at the heart of this law is currently being deliberated in the High Court of Justice.

Status: Passed final reading on 25 January 2010.


Abu Basma Bill on Regional Council Elections (government)

This bill includes an amendment to the law concerning elections in regional councils, allowing the Minister of Interior to postpone democratic elections in new regional councils for an indefinite period. It specifically relates to the case of the Abu Basma, a regional council comprised of Bedouin villages in the Negev, which was recognized six years ago but is still being administered by an appointed representative of the Minister of Interior, not by elected representatives of the Bedouin community.

Status: Passed final reading on 16 November 2009.0 On 9 February 2011, following a hearing in a petition filed by ACRI and Adalah to the High Court against this law, the court ruled that elections in Abu Basma be held on 4 December 2012. Therefore, the organizations withdrew the demand to discuss their principled claims against this law. However, just six weeks before the elections, however, the Interior Ministry decided to split the local council into two and elections were not held. ACRI continues to closely follow and lobby on this issue.

 

Bills Being Promoted with Government Support

 

Bill to Prohibit Use of the Word “Nazi” and Third Reich Symbols

This bill seeks to prohibit the use of the word “Nazi” or similar-sounding words, epithets associated with Nazism and the Third Reich, and symbols related to the Nazis or to the Holocaust.

According to ACRI, it is precisely because of the importance and gravity of the Holocaust that the attempt to dictate how and in what contexts it can be discussed is particularly egregious. This bill aims to forcibly control the public discourse in Israel, its content, and its tone – by way of criminal prohibitions and threats of detention.

Status: On 9 January 2012, the Ministerial Committee voted to support this bill.

 

Libel without Proof of Damages (MK Yariv Levin and MK Meir Sheetrit)

These were two separate proposed amendments to the Anti-Defamation Law, which were later united into one proposed bill. The first bill authorizes the court to order those who have published libel, including media outlets, to pay punitive damages of NIS 300,000 even without proof of damages – instead of NIS 50,000 as is the amount in current Israeli law. The second bill sets the amount of compensation without proof of damages at NIS 500,000 – instead of the current NIS 50,000 stipulated by the law.

Status: The combined version of the bills passed its first reading on 21 November 2011.

 

Prohibition of Support from a Foreign State Entity (MK Ofir Akunis)

This bill stipulates that “political organizations” would be allowed to accept donations from a “foreign state entity” not exceeding 20,000 NIS per year. An amended version of the bill restricted it to “political organizations” – intending to target peace organizations and human rights groups.

Status: United with another bill, see below.

 

Bill on Taxation of Foreign State Funding (MK Fania Kirshenbaum)

Seeks to deprive nonprofit organizations receiving money from a “foreign state entity” of their legal right to be exempted from income tax and sets their taxation rate at 45%. The bill’s provisions would exclude organizations receiving funding from the state.

Status: United with another bill, see below.

 

Bill on Foreign Funding of NGOS – Hybrid Version (MKs Ofir Akunis and Fania Kirshenbaum)

This bill combines the prior two NGO foreign funding bills (see above) into one larger bill with several new addenda. This hybrid bill divides all NGOs receiving funding from foreign state entities into three categories: (1) Those that will be completely banned from receiving it; (2) Those that will be allowed to receive it by virtue of being also funded (now or in recent years) by governmental sources in Israel; (3) All the rest – which will be taxed (on this kind of income) at a 45% rate, unless they get a waiver from the Knesset.

Status: Bill presented on 30 November 2011. Not currently being promoted, due to harsh local and international criticism.

 

Defamation of Public or State Authorities Bill (MK Yaacov Katz et al.)

This amendment to the Anti-Defamation Law would allow libel suits and even criminal prosecution against anyone slandering the State of Israel or any of its official bodies. Additionally, it would allow any person belonging to a particular slandered public to bring a civil suit against the accused slanderer. In the explanatory notes, the sponsors of the legislation do not hide the fact that their intention is to enable lawsuits and even criminal prosecution against NGOs that provide information on human rights violations and alleged war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers.

Status: Approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on 11 July 2011, but later objections were submitted.

 

Preference in Civil Service for Those who Served in Military (MK Hamad Amar)

According to this bill, Israeli citizens who have completed military or national service will be given preference when applying for positions in the public service. 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.

Status: Passed a preliminary reading on 26 January 2011. Following the intervention of the Attorney-General, the bill has been frozen for the time being.

 

Preference in Services for Those who Served in the Military (MK David Rotem)

According to this bill, housing, education, and other public services shall be granted preferentially to individuals who have served in the Israeli military or completed national service. Currently, Arab citizens and others are collectively exempt from military service and can voluntarily choose to carry out national service.

Status: Passed a preliminary reading on 5 July 2010 and transferred to the Knesset Labor Committee. Not yet promoted in the committee.

 

Pledge of Allegiance to the State, the Flag, and the National Anthem (MK David Rotem)

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.

Status: In October 2010 the government endorsed this bill, but it has since then not been promoted.

 

Anti-Incitement Bill (MK Zevulun Orlev)

An amendment to 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.

Status: Passed a preliminary reading on 27 May 2009. Might reach the Knesset Constitution Committee in preparation for its first reading.

 

Tribunal for Foreigners (government)

The bill, an amendment to the Entry to Israel Law, seeks to establish a tribunal for immigration and status matters within the Ministry of Justice for non-Jewish foreigners seeking to obtain legal status in Israel. The judges of this court shall be employed by the executive branch, and will be allowed to rule without holding any public debate. The authorities will be exempt from presenting various documents to the court and will be allowed to demand ex-parte hearings.

Matters of immigration and the status of non-Jews are not currently regulated by a clear immigration policy. Therefore, once this tribunal is established, all the executive, legislative, and judicial powers pertaining to the immigration and status of non-Jews will be in the hands of the Ministries of Justice and Interior. The ministries will determine the policy, introduce procedures, execute them, judge them, and pass judgment on whether their policy and its execution are even legal. This will lead to an infringement on the most basic rights of many individuals, including: partners of citizens and residents, children in East Jerusalem, migrant workers, persons with no status, and so on.

Status: Passed its first reading on 20 December 2010, currently discussed in preparation for its second-third reading.

 

Bill to Protect Israel’s Values (MK Uri Ariel)

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.

Status: The bill was debated in the Ministerial Committee on 7 November 2010 and sent to the Ministry of Justice for review and revision. A revised version has not hitherto been returned to the Ministerial Comittee.

 

Government-Initiated Bills Intended to Restrict the Knesset’s Opposition (government)

Seven MKs may split from a Knesset faction to establish a new faction – instead of the current one-third of the original faction members; increasing the quorum needed for budget-related bills to 55 MKs; if a vote of no-confidence is endorsed by a Knesset majority, but the new candidate for Prime Minister fails to form a coalition-based government, then the ousted government will regain its seat; a cabinet member who quits the Knesset shall be replaced by another on his faction list.

Status: Passed their first reading. Not being promoted at present.

 

Bills the Government Has yet to Endorse or Reject

 

 

Declaration of Loyalty Bill (MK Danny Danon)

According to this bill, as a condition for receiving any official document of the state – such as an identity card, a passport, or a driver’s license – citizens would be required to declare their loyalty to the State of Israel and to its values as a Jewish and democratic state.

According to ACRI, a state that requires citizens to decalre their loyalty and monitors their beliefs, views, and opinions – is not a democracy. This bill will infringe on a range of basic rights of Israeli citizens, not only their freedom of expression and freedom of opinion, since it might lead to revocation of necessary documents, as well as revoking the right to the realization of civil rights of persons who refuse to declare loyalty to the state and its institutions.

Status: Bill tabled on 23 January 2012, and not yet discussed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

 

Basic Law: Israel the Nation-State of the Jewish People (MK Avi Dichter et al.)
This bill seeks to define Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” – and uniquely of the Jewish people – legally subordinating the state’s democratic character to its Jewish one as defined in this proposed bill. The bill further stipulates that Arabic will no longer be an official language of the state (rather a “special status” language), that Hebrew Law shall serve as a source of inspiration for the legislator, and enables the establishment of separate communal settlements for members of one religion or nationality, thereby cleansing, and even makes a statutory norm of, existing practices of racial discrimination in housing.

In essence, much of what is being proposed is similar to what already exists today through various laws. The major differences are the emphasis on Israel as the national home only of the Jewish people, and the demotion of Arabic to a secondary language. The most problematic element of this legislation is its discriminatory message, leaving no room for protection of minorities in Israel – particularly not the Arab minority.

Status: Tabled on 3 August 2011. Not yet discussed by the Ministerial Committee.

 

Denying Entry to Israel (MKs Yariv Levin and Yaacov Edri)

According to this bill, entry to Israel will be denied to foreign nationals involved in boycotts against Israel, filing lawsuits against Israeli military and government officials because of their military activity, or denying the Holocaust.

Status: The bill was not yet promoted in the Knesset.

 

Pledge of Allegiance for Civil Servants and Council Members (MK Lia Shemtov et al.)

According to this bill, members of local and city councils, as well as some other civil servants, will be required to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Status: Bill was presented in Knesset on 6 December  2010. Not yet discussed by the Ministerial Committee.

 

Associations Law – Amendment (MK Ronit Tirosh)

According to this bill, an NGO that is involved in filing of lawsuits abroad against senior Israeli politicians and army officers will be shut down. An new organization of this type that wishes to register with the Registrar of Associations will not be allowed to register as a legal association.

Status: Bill presented in the Knesset on 14 June 2010, not yet promoted.

Route 443 Law, 2010 (Moshe Matalon, Alex Miller, et al.)

In response to an appeal before the Supreme court launched by ACRI, together with six residents of the West Bank at the end of 2009, an order was handed down to render illegal the prohibition imposed by the IDF upon Palestinian residents traveling on Route 443.

A number of members of the Knesset decided in response to the ruling to reestablish this discriminatory and illegal prohibition, this time through the legislature. According to one proposal, the State of Israel would annex the road, which would supposedly enable the government to impose the prohibition on Palestinians using it.

Status: The law was submitted on January 25, 2010, it has yet to be advanced.

 

Bills Aimed at Weakening the Supreme Court

 

Restricting Public Petitions to the High Court of Justice (MKs Yariv Levin and Danny Danon)
This proposed amendment to the Basic Law: The Judiciary seeks to substantially limit the ability of human rights and social change organizations to file petitions to the High Court of Justice, thereby limiting the amount of sensitive public issues that reach the Supreme Court. The bill seeks to restrict “public petitioners” – organizations and bodies that file petitions against state authorities even though they are not directly harmed in a certain matter.

Status: Tabled on 28 February 2011, scheduled to be brought before the Ministerial Committee in the coming weeks.

 

Bills Intended to Influence the Selection of Supreme Court Justices

Several bills have recently been promoted with the intention of influencing the process of selection of Supreme Court:

 

The Courthouses Order (Proposed Amendment – Appointing a President) (MK Yaacov Katz): Lowers the minimal tenure for a Supreme Court President – from three to two years, in order to enable the presidency of Justice Asher Grunis.

Status: Law passed its final reading on 2 January 2012.

 

Transparency of Procedures to Appoint Supreme Court Justices (MKs Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin): Every judge and president appointed to the Supreme Court would have to undergo a hearing in the Knesset Constitution Committee, which can then veto the appointment.

Status: The Prime Minister decided to not support this bill.

 

Bill Regarding Representatives of the Lawyers’ Bar Association in the Committee for Selection of Judges (MK Robert Illatov et al.): Seeks to ensure that the head of the Bar Association will be one of the Bar representatives in the committee, in order to influence the (then upcoming) selection.

Status: Received government support but was not promoted due to harsh criticism; since the Supreme Court selection has, at this point, already ended – this bill is not likely to be promoted.

 

Bill to Defer High Court Rulings on Legality of Bills (MK Yaacov Katz)

According to this 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.

Status: Tabled on 2 February 2010. The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill on 18 October 2010.

 

Bill Banning High Court from Ruling on Security-Related Matters (MK Yaacov Katz 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 be binding to the government.

Status: Tabled on 25 January 2010. The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill on 30 May 2010.

 

Basic Law: Constitution Court (MK David Rotem)

The proposed bill aims at establishing a new Constitution Court through a series of acts, and stipulates that the justices be required to pledge allegiance to a Jewish state; that votes will be unanimous; and other criteria that will harm separation of powers, human rights, and democratic values.

Status: Tabled on 1 April 2010. Not being promoted due to lack of coalition agreement.

 

Bill to Disallow High Court from Ruling on Citizenship Law (MK David Rotem et al.)

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 Occupied 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 existing policy.

Status: Tabled on 5 November 2009. The Ministerial Committee decided to not support the bill on 20 December 2009.

 

Proposed Basic Law: Legislation 2012 (Government)

A memorandum of law presented by the government that seeks to regulate the forms of legislation.

In Israel, under the system of basic laws, different levels of laws are defined with a hierarchy between them. This proposed Basic Law is extremely significant in that it determines the supremacy of the Basic Law in Israel and the authority given to the Supreme Court to declare certain laws as being illegal and to disqualify them if they are antithetical to the Basic Law. The proposed law is important because it contains a dangerous paragraph that states that when the Supreme Court strikes down an illegal law, the Knesset can reestablish it with a majority vote of 65 Knesset members. The law would then be valid for five years, though it can be re-enacted every five years from that point without any restrictions.  This provision will grant the Knesset majority the power to infringe upon human rights generally, and the rights of minorities in particular, in a manner that contradicts the essence of the Basic Law whose aim it is to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. It additionally threatens the balance necessary for an effective separation of powers needed in a proper democracy.

Status: in the memorandum stage.

 

 

Proposed Basic Law: Judiciary (Amendment – Public Petitioner) (Yariv Levy and Danny Danon)

The proposed law seeks to diminish the extent of the ability of human rights organizations and NGOs to affect social change through petitioning the High Court of Justice (and so to reduce the number of sensitive public issues that appear before the court).

The proposal seeks to limit “public petitioners” – NGOs and bodies that launch an appeal against the state, but have suffered no direct harm from the law in question, and so establish a prerequisite threshold for serving a public appeal.

The proposed law is another step in the de-legitimization of social groups, in particular human rights organizations that are being advanced by the 18th Knesset.

Status: Bill submitted on February 28, 2011, it is yet to be brought before the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

 

Civil Torts Law (Liability of the State) (Amendment # 8) (Government)

In 2005 the Knesset approved an amendment to the Civil Torts Law that aimed to deprive residents of the Occupied Territories from exercising their right to seek compensation with regards to damages they suffered at the hands of Israeli security forces, even when it occurred outside of the framework of operational activities. In December 2006, as a result of a petition by nine human rights organizations (including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel), the High Court ordered the state to remove the amendment as it was illegal. Only six months after the court handed down the judgment, the government prepared a law “circumventing the High Court of Justice” whose aim it was to legislate the disqualified amendment anew. In the process of preparatory discussions leading up to the second and third readings of the law, and after repeated requests from human rights organizations, members of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee decided to take into consideration the High Court ruling and the legal advice of the committee. The committee changed the formulation of the law so that it will not absolve the state of all responsibility where it physically or psychologically harms Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances of the injury and whether the Palestinians were involved in posing a danger to Israeli soldiers.

Status: Bill passed its first reading during the 17th Knesset and passed into law on July 16, 2012.

 

Other Initiatives

 

 

Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry (MKs Danny Danon and Fania Kirshenbaum)

These were two separate proposals, which sought to establish parliamentary committees of inquiry into the financing of various NGOs.

Status: On 2 February 2011, both committees received their letter of appointment from the Knesset Committee. However, in the wake of local and international pressure, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he no longer supports the establishment of these committees and allowed parliamentary freedom on the vote within the coalition. On 20 July 2001, the Knesset rejected both proposals.

 

Bills not Promoted due to Lack of Government Support

(1)

 

Bill on Dissolving Companies that Refuse to Operate in Any Part of the State (MK Yaacov Katz et al.)

According to this bill, any company that refuses to provide services or buy services from a specific region in Israel is causing harm to all Israeli citizens. If the company will sign a contract whereby it commits to not provide services or operate in a specific region (e.g. Israeli settlements in the West Bank), the court will be given the authority to dissolve the company.

Status: Tabled on 7 February 2011, rejected by the Ministerial Committee but an appeal was later filed. The appeal was also rejected on 11 July 2011.

 

Bill on Funding for Cultural Institutions (MK Moshe Mataon)

The bill is intended to deny state funds from cultural institutions that employ artists, who did not served in the Israeli military.

Status: The Ministerial Committee rejected this bill on 13 February 2011.

 

Bill on Banning Veils in Public (MK Marina Solodkin and MK Miri Regev)

These are two separate bills, according to which it would be illegal to cover one’s face in public and the offence will carry a penalty of imprisonment.

Status: Both bills were tabled in July 2010 and rejected by the Ministerial comittee on 2 February 2011.

 

Bill on MKs’ Pledge of Allegiance (MK David Rotem)

According to this bill, all MKs will be required to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, to its laws, symbols, and national anthem. This bill is intended to delegitimize and even actually exclude minority groups in Israel from taking part in Israeli democracy.

Status: On 6 June 2010, the Ministerial Committee rejected this bill.

 

Cinema Bill (MK Michael Ben-Ari et al.)

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, and so on. This bill infringes on freedom of expression, freedom of protest, and freedom of artistic expression – of only one side of the political spectrum.

Status: On 9 May 2010, the bill was rejected by the Ministerial Committee. On 12 May 2010, the Knesset plenum voted against this bill in its preliminary hearing.

 

Bill to Bar Political Assassins and Terrorists from Voting (MK Moshe Matalon)

According to this bill, the assassin of an Israeli Prime Minister, as well as persons who committed acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens or sent others to commit acts of terrorism – will not be allowed to vote in the general elections.

Status: Tabled on 26 April 2010, rejected by the Ministerial Committee on 1 May 2010.

 

Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (Amendment: Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law) (MK avid Rotem an 44 other MKS)

This bill was constructed in order to bypass the Supreme Court, following Supreme Court hearings regarding the Citizenship Law, for fear that the court will ban this law.

Status: Tabled on 11 May 2009, rejected by the Ministerial Committee on 20 December 2009.

 

Bill on Ousting MKs (MK Danny Danon)

According to this bill, an MK may be ousted by a majority vote of 80 MKs if he or she expressed their opposition to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incited to racism, or supported an armed struggle against the State of Israel.

Status: Rejected by the Ministerial Committee.


[1] This is a very partial selection of anti-democratic initiatives presented in the current Knesset and not promoted due to lack of government support.

 

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Migrant Workers, Publications and Campaigns, Racism and Discrimination, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, The Right to Equality

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