Knesset Round Up | October 30

Administrative Detention

Proposed Law: The Struggle against Terror, 5775-2015 – Remaining section – Preparation for Second and Third Readings
Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee | Wednesday, 25 October 2017, 9:00 a.m. | Preparation for Second and Third Readings

Last week’s discussion related to the government proposed law regulating the use of administrative detentions and administrative restriction orders. The proposed law seeks to convert the arrangement for administrative detentions into a permanent act of legislation, forming an integral part of Israeli law. It also seeks to expand the powers of the Defense Minister to impair citizens’ liberty.

ACRI’s position: The proposed law seeks to perpetuate draconian regulations dating back to the British Mandate and is inappropriate for a democratic country in the twenty-first century. Administrative detentions severely violate human rights, circumvent a just trial, and impose a grave blemish on Israel’s democratic character. Administrative detention violates the right of a person to be free from arbitrary detention and is based on the unacceptable assumption that it is possible to predict future behavior of civilians. Administrative detention allows for imprisonment of people who have not committed a crime, using confidential material and without telling them of what they are accused.  The State does not have to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through a fair criminal trial. Administrative detention allows the authorities to imprison a person even if they have no admissible evidence to prove guilt. It allows the security authorities to prosecute without making the effort required to collect sufficient evidence. Administrative restraining orders also violate basic rights and basic democratic principles. They do not allow the citizen to contend with a fair legal procedure, and therefore they are unacceptable.

ACRI demands that administrative detentions and restriction orders be nullified immediately. At the very least, they should be permitted only in an extreme emergency situation, to be the subject of special declaration, when the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to act is gravely and seriously disrupted. We recognize the importance of the effective struggle against terror, as well as the state’s obligation to protect its citizens against serious violence. As a democratic state, however, Israel must combat terror in a manner that is consistent with the basis of its existence as a democracy.

Nation-State Law

Proposed Basic Law: Israel – The Nation-State of the Jewish People – discussion will address the clauses concerning the national anthem, the state flag and emblem (section 3 of the proposal), the state’s capital (section 4 of the proposal), the official calendar, Independence Day, memorial days and holidays (sections 9-11 of the proposal); Israel – Nation-State of the Jewish People – preparation for First Reading
Joint Committee of the Knesset Committee and the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee for Discussion of the Proposed Basic Law: Israel – Nation-State of the Jewish People (P/20/1989) | Monday, 23 October 2017, 10:00 a.m. | Preparation for First Reading

The special committee established to discuss the Nation-State Law met last week and will meet again this week, in preparation for the First Reading. The committee is currently discussing the sections concerning the national anthem, the state flag and emblem, the capital, special days on the national calendar, and so forth (see details above).

The following is the ACRI’s general position regarding the proposed law. If we have comments on specific sections, we will add these later.

ACRI’s position:  The proposed law, which seeks to redefine Israel’s identity, creates significant challenges in terms of democracy and human rights in Israel. In the format as tabled, the law would subordinate Israel’s democratic character to its definition in accordance with the proposed law as a Jewish state, in an unprecedented manner. We must emphasize that even the proposed alternative formula, which seeks to maintain the definition of Israel as “Jewish and democratic,” does not change the general spirit of the proposed law, according to which the Jewish features of the state are to be emphasized and prioritized over its democratic features. In this state of affairs, there is room for concern that the law will damage the human rights of all citizens of Israel due to erosion it will cause in the status of democracy in Israel.

In addition, the proposed law entails grave violations of human rights, and in particular the rights of the Arab minority in Israel. Such violation of the rights of one-fifth of the citizens undermines the right to equality, and causes grave damage to democracy. The legislation includes numerous discriminatory provisions and even creates the potential for the introduction of additional and broad-based practices of racial discrimination in all fields of life – and not only regarding the Arab minority. Read more

Denying Tax Benefits to Certain Organizations (Section 46A)

Proposed Law: Income Tax Ordinance (Institution Acting for the Benefit of the State of Israel), 5777-2017 (P/20/36670 – Preparation for First Reading; 2. Principled discussion of section 46 of the Income Tax Ordinance – criteria for the approval of NPOs for the purpose of section 46 by the Finance Minister and the Finance Committee  
Finance Committee | Monday, 30 October 2017, 10:30 a.m. | Preparation for First Reading

Section 46(A) of the Income Tax Ordinance establishes the recognition for tax purposes of donations to public institutions and associations. Such recognition encourages donations to these bodies. The proposal seeks to deny tax credit to donors who give money to public institutions that “act against the State of Israel.” “Acting against the State of Israel” is defined as any of the following: (1) Issuing publications that accuse the State of Israel of committing war crimes; or (2) Calling for a boycott against Israel or it is citizens. The proposal also seeks to restrict the definition of a “public institution,” and to establish that the tax benefit will be given only to persons who donate to an organization that acts on behalf of the citizens of the State or Diaspora Jewry.

ACRI’s position: The proposed law is antidemocratic and violates freedom of expression and association, freedom of conscience, and the right to equality. The proposal seeks to permit the denial of a tax benefit on the basis of ideological positions, and to punish those who hold positions that are viewed unfavorably by the government. The proposal is part of the  much broader attempt to impede the activities of human rights and social change organizations whose agenda and activities are unpopular with the current political majority. The proposal seeks to target a small group of organizations active primarily on the issues of the rights of migrant workers and asylum seekers, human rights in the Territories, and so forth.

It is a basic principle in a democratic country that freedom of expression and association must be ensured, including the freedom of action of human rights organizations and of bodies expressing diverse opinions and positions.  A strong democracy can contain the diverse voices in society and address them without violating freedom of expression.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties

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