Knesset Roundup | February 8


Privatization of Police Powers in the Local Authorities

Proposed Law: Enhancing the Efficiency of Municipal Enforcement and Inspection in the Local Authorities (Temporary Provision) (Amendment No. 3), 5777-2017 – Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

Internal Affairs and Environment Committee | Monday, 6 Feb. 2017, 9 a.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

ACRI’s position: This proposed law is a product of the government resolution from June 2010 regarding the reform in the field of personal security. As part of the reform, a pilot project for the introduction of municipal policing was launched in 13 cities in 2011. The original bill granted municipal inspectors sweeping new powers to assist the police in preventing violent offenses within the local authority. Although the original wording has since been moderated, the bill still reflects a problematic and worrying trend for the state to abandon its responsibility to provide vital services for citizens – in this instance by transferring core functions of the police to municipal inspectors.

Due to the problems involved in privatizing police powers, and concern at inequality between different local authorities, the original proposal has been confined to 13 authorities that were due to run a two-year pilot project. However, since the bill was adopted, the pilot project has been extended repeatedly, and the government is now seeking to convert this provision to permanent law.

Moreover, dozens of local authorities have been added to the list over this period, bringing the total to over seventy. There has been no serious discussion (and possibly no discussion at all) of the far-reaching ramifications of the project, nor of its effectiveness and the defects it entails.

Biometric Database

Proposed Law: Inclusion of Biometric Means of Identification and Biometric Identifying Data in Identification Documents and in a Database (Amendment and Temporary Provision), 5777-2016 – Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

Joint Committee of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee; the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee; and the Science and Technology Committee established under the Inclusion of Biometric Means of Identification and Biometric Identifying Data in Identification Documents and in a Database Law, 5770-2009 | Monday, 6 Feb. 2017, 10 a.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

ACRI’s position: According to the proposed law, the trial biometric database will become permanent and compulsory and will include biometric data for all residents of Israel. As will be recalled, a pilot project was introduced in 2013 with the declared goal of examining the need for the database, in light of its grave violation of privacy and its inherent dangers. The Digital Rights Movement recently published a comprehensive report prepared by leading experts in the field. The report warns of defects in the management of the pilot project and highlights the manipulations used by the authority responsible for managing the database to influence the results of the pilot. Members of Knesset from across the political spectrum are strongly opposed to the plan to require all residents to include their data in the database. ACRI joins the Digital Rights Movement in urging Members of Knesset to stop the bureaucrats who are attempting to establish a dangerous database, in some cases by improper means.


Intensifying Enforcement and Penalization for Building Offenses

Proposed Law: Planning and Building (Amendment No. 106), 5776-2016 – Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

Internal Affairs and Environment Committee | Monday, 6 Feb. 2017, 11:30 a.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings 

The objective of the proposed amendments in the bill is to intensify enforcement and penalization for building offenses. To this end, the bill includes the following measures, among others: Restricting the discretion and involvement of the court in proceedings for enforcing building offenses; increasing the discretion and powers of administrative functions, particularly the national planning and enforcement bodies, in the enforcement of planning laws and in addressing unauthorized construction; raising the levels of fines and periods of imprisonment for building offenses; and expanding the circle of penalization for these offenses.

ACRI’s position (jointly with partner organizations): While the proposed amendments have ramifications for the enforcement of planning laws in all areas and sectors, it is impossible to ignore their far-reaching implications for Arab citizens. In particular, it is impossible to ignore the context in which these proposals have been raised: the government’s intention to confront the phenomenon of unauthorized construction in Arab society.

Unauthorized construction in Arab locales does not take place in a vacuum, and does not reflect a deliberate choice or desire to violate or disrespect the nation’s laws. In most cases, such construction takes place in the absence of any other alternative, due to the housing crisis facing the Arab communities. This crisis is in turn the product of the authorities’ planning failures, such as the absence of planning or defecting planning that fails to meet Arab citizens’ basic housing needs.

We believe that there is no justification for advancing a bill that can be expected to lead to an escalation in house demolition policy. Instead, the government should engage in dialogue with the heads of Arab local authorities and other representatives of the Arab public. This process should lead to the approval of outline plans enabling citizens to receive lawful building permits in Arab locales and to secure retroactive approval for existing construction.

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties

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