Israel

   
 

Executive Summary

Quality of democracy declining
The quality of Israeli democracy appeared to decline over the course of the review period. Given recent developments, 45% of Israeli citizens – with this group skewed toward left-wing Jewish voters and Arab Israelis – believe that Israel’s democratic system is in serious danger. Many decisions made by the current government have been seen as undermining the democratic rules of the game. Among the Knesset’s most controversial recent legislative measures have been a law requiring NGOs to disclose foreign funding sources and the Settlement Regularization Law, which addresses land privately owned by Palestinians.
Top officials involved
in corruption cases
Additionally, several top Israeli political officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been involved in corruption cases. Despite Israel’s improvement in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, a majority of the general public believes that Israel is a corrupt country. According to the 2017 Israeli Democracy Index, Israeli citizens show a considerable degree of distrust in Israel’s leadership and institutions. The level of trust in the government, the Knesset and political parties was very low, with 30% of Israeli citizens trusting the government, 26% trusting the Knesset and only 15% trusting political parties.
Key economic indicators are strong
Economic policies in recent years have not changed dramatically. Israel has continued to show strength in key economic indicators such as GDP growth, the employment rate and the inflation rate, although the rising cost of living, high poverty rates and inequality remain key issues for many Israeli citizens.
Employment rising, poverty still a problem
With regard to social policies, the number of employed people increased in 2017; however, the number of poor people and poor working families remains high. A more detailed observation indicates that the number of poor families declined, while the overall number of poor people increased. Poverty rates remain high especially among the elderly, Ultra-orthodox and Arab citizens. The government has made some efforts to address this issue, - for example, by increasing the minimum wage in the Minimum Wage law, following an agreement between the Histadrut Labor Federation and business leaders.
Considerable environmental gains evident
In the area of environmental policy, Israel has demonstrated significant progress, for instance by ratifying the Paris climate agreement and making investments in emissions reductions. However, environmental organizations have accused the government of inactivity in investigating several recent ecological disasters, including a massive influx of acidic water that polluted Ashalim Creek in 2017.
RIA reports rarely published
With regard to executive capacity, the Israeli government has continued make efforts to reduce the regulatory burden. However, despite a 2014 decision to implement a new regulatory impact assessment (RIA) model, RIA reports are rarely published – indeed, in 2017, only seven reports were published. The policy-implementation rate has improved to more than 70%, after several years of low implementation rates.
Citations:
“62% of Israelis: ‘Israel is corrupted,’” Chanel 2, 22.7.2017 (Hebrew): http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q3_2017/Article-9dd21652bda6d51004.htm

“Anti-Democratic Legislation,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2017 (Hebrew): https://www.acri.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/anti-democratic-legislation1117.pdf

Gan-Mor, Gil, Raghad Jaraisy, Ronit Sela, Avner Pinchuk and Oded Feller, “Situation Report: The State of Human Rights in Israel and the OPT 2016,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2016:
https://www.acri.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/report2017-December-April.pdf

“Israel,” Transparency International: https://www.transparency.org/country/ISR#

“Israeli Democracy Index 2017,” the Israel Democracy Institute, 12.12.2017: https://en.idi.org.il/articles/20283

“Poverty and Social Gaps: Annual Report,” National Insurance Institute (“Bituah Leumi”), 2017 (Hebrew): https://www.btl.gov.il/Publications/oni_report/Documents/oni2016.pdf

Lidar Gravé-Lazi, “Taub report: Economic slowdown, high poverty and inequality in Israel in 2017,” 27.12.2017, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Taub-report-Economic-slowdown-high-poverty-and-inequality-in-Israel-in-2017-520126

Raoul Wootliff, „Police recommend charging Netanyahu for taking bribes from mogul,” 13.2.2018, Times of Israel, https://www.timesofisrael.com/police-recommend-charging-netanyahu-for-taking-bribes-from-mogul-publisher/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=b29923a4f7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_14&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-b29923a4f7-54509245
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