Israel

   

Executive Accountability

#20
Key Findings
With some legislative weaknesses evident, Israel falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 20) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources, but executive practices sometimes undermine formal oversight powers. Some lawmakers are pushing to expand parliamentary oversight capabilities. The State Comptroller serves as an independent auditor and ombudsman, but holds no power to issue sanctions. Different agencies oversee citizen data protection and national cybersecurity.

Citizens are highly interested in politics, and participate actively. While the media often focuses on prominent and popular topics, it also produces substantial reporting on policy and long-term strategies. Younger Israelis are beginning to trust social media more than traditional media.

The large number of political parties vary strongly in their internal decision-making processes. Business organizations are sophisticated and work closely with the government. A recently passed “transparency” measure aimed specifically at left-wing and civil-rights NGOs is viewed by critics as undermining democratic institutions, while another seeks to limit lawsuits against government policy.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#10

To what extent are citizens informed of public policies?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual public policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of public policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of public policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of public policies.
Political Knowledge
8
Compared to other countries, Israeli citizens show high levels of interest in politics. In the Israeli Democracy Index of 2017 and international comparative indices, Israeli citizens were found to participate widely and be highly interested in politics. Israel also has one of the region’s highest internet-penetration rates (reaching 78.9% in 2017); a lively, pluralistic and independent news media market; and a politically heterogeneous and active civil society. Furthermore, according to the Israeli Democracy Index of 2017, most people (and especially the Jewish population) expressed an unwillingness to compromise democratic standards for better implementation of policy.

That being said, the Israeli public appears to be, to put mildly, “unimpressed” by the government’s capabilities and its levels of transparency. According to two surveys conducted for the Eli Hurvitz Conventions in 2016 and 2018, the public views the functioning of government and its policies, and aspects of transparency and the government’s contact (or connectiveness) with citizens rather critically, ranking these criteria as mostly mediocre at best.

But one should not reach conclusions from this too hastily. However, while the government has made a significant effort to increase its overall transparency (and suffers many shortcomings in this field; see section 9.2), citizens usually rely on the media rather than official (government) information channels for information about public policies.

Israeli citizens can potentially be informed about public policy from a wide range of sources, with the specific source dependent largely on an individual’s personal interests (how interested is he to learn and know about public policy) and personal involvement (does the policy affect him and to what extent, or alternatively how politically active is he and to what extent does his political activism target public policy).

Citations:
Arlozorov, Meirav. “For the First Time: The Grade the Government Gave Itself in Achieving Goals.” The Marker website. https://www.themarker.com/news/politics/1.4002747. April 6th, 2017 (Hebrew)

Arlozorov, Meirav. “The Professionalist Revolution of the Government of Israel.” The Marker website. https://www.themarker.com/allnews/1.5846420. February 25th, 2018 (Hebrew)

Data Israel Survey Database of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research. Source for data of the surveys for the Eli Hurvitz Conventions. https://dataisrael.idi.org.il/

“Freedom of the Press: Israel 2017,” Freedom House, 2017 https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/israel

Hermann, Tamar et.al., The Israeli Democracy Index 2016, The Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem 2016. https://en.idi.org.il/media/7811/democracy-index-2016-eng.pdf

Israel. The State Comptroller. “The Government’s Transparency – Actions to Promote the Open Government,” Annual Report, 68(3), 2018, Jerusalem, vol. 1, pp. 5-71. (also available here: http://www.mevaker.gov.il/he/Reports/Report_627/6dd1ae66-0117-438b-bef5-241d493c6f01/101-shkifut.pdf) (Hebrew)

“Joining the Open Government Partnership and the nomination of the ‘Open Government Israeli Forum,’” Prime Minister Office website 2012 (Hebrew)

“The Government approved today the publication of all governmental databases” http://www.themarker.com/news/politics/1.3053541 (Hebrew)

“The Knesset Presents: Advanced Committee Web Portals Now Available,” http://www.ch10.co.il/news/110674/#.V8R-rvl9670 (Hebrew)

“The Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information,” The Knesset Website (Hebrew): http://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Committees/GovInfo/Pages/default.aspx

The State Comptroller’s official website in English. Numerous reports are in English and Arabic. http://www.mevaker.gov.il/En/Pages/default.aspx

The World Bank internet Users Data http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2

“Yearly Report on the Implementation of the Law of Freedom of Information 2014” Ministry of Justice website – The Governmental Unit for Freedom of Information (Hebrew): http://index.justice.gov.il/Units/YechidatChofeshHameyda/Report2014/index.html

Herman, Tamar and Ella Heller, Tzipy Laza-Shoef, Fadi Omar, “The Israeli Democracy Index 2017. Summary,” 2017, https://en.idi.org.il/media/9837/israeli-democracy-index-2017-en-summary.pdf

Tamar Hermann, “Democracy in Crisis? Israeli Survey Respondents Agree to Disagree,” 13.12.2018, Podcast: https://en.idi.org.il/podcasts/25310

“Work Book for the Year of 2018.” Containing links to all work books since 2011 and goals achievement reports since 2017 (reviewing 2016). http://plans.gov.il/Plan2012/Pages/newWorkPlan2012.aspx

Transparency International: “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018,”: http://www.ti-israel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CPI-2018-Executive-summary-PRINT.pdf

Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

10
 9

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 8
 7
 6


The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 5
 4
 3


The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
 2
 1

The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
Open Government
7
In recent years, the government has expanded its efforts with regard to policy transparency. In 2011, Israel joined the Open Government Partnership and, in 2016, the government announced the launch of a program designed to open all governmental databases to public access. This step is part of an ongoing policy of increasing transparency by expanding the authority of and funding for the Governmental Unit for Freedom of Information.

Furthermore, in 2011 the government started publishing “work books,” detailing its policies and policy goals in quantitative rankings and values, even presenting them in comparison to goals set in previous years. In 2016, the government developed this by starting to publish separate reports showing, in quantitative rankings and values, government performance and goal achievement, thus becoming one of only four countries in the world to employ such a method of self-evaluation and transparency. In 2018, a new category of policy goals was inserted into the work book, termed “ambitious,” and defined as goals that have a slim chance of being fully achieved. The rationale behind this, according to Eli Groner, the Prime Minister’s Office’s CEO, in his introduction in the work book, is to ensure that the work books won’t become negative incentives, encouraging governmental authorities to lower their policy goals and standards.

In 2015, the Knesset approved the creation of the Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information, which acts as the parliamentary auxiliary for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law. This committee decided to post all Knesset committee protocols and decisions online, and to facilitate direct contact with committee directors.

Most (if not all) governmental authorities have an official website and social media presence, some of which are available in languages other than Hebrew (e.g., English and Arabic, as well as Persian in the case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The websites offer a wide range of services, including information services (like press releases, law drafts for public commentary and policy explanations). One important example of this is the official website of the Ministry of Finance, which publishes the state budget (or more accurately its highlights) in a readable and keywords-searchable PDF format. The website also offers tools to observe changes in the budget and to compare it with the budgets from previous years.

The Knesset has a comprehensive website, offering the option to download all of the Knesset’s press releases, protocols (general assembly and various committees, but excluding confidential committees, such as the Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security Matters, and its many sub-committees), draft and enacted laws, and even research papers that were handed to the various committees. The Knesset’s TV channel, which started broadcasting in 2004, broadcasts through this website, and the Knesset’s committee and general assembly meetings are usually also recorded and available to watch online. Since 2009, the Public Knowledge Workshop, a non-profit NGO, has been running the Open Knesset website, with the aim to make the information on the Knesset’s website more accessible to the public. Currently, the Open Knesset website is not operative, as preparations are made to launch an updated version. In addition, on 22 October 2018, the Knesset announced the launch of National Legislation Database, with the purpose of making all legislation and the legislative processes digitally accessible to the public.

Citations:
Government ICT Authority, “Open Government Action Plan for 2018-2019”: http://yoursay.gov.il/cio/File/Index/nap3english/

Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018”: http://www.ti-israel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CPI-2018-Executive-summary-PRINT.pdf

Tamar Hermann, “Democracy in Crisis? Israeli Survey Respondents Agree to Disagree”: 13.12.2018, Podcast, https://en.idi.org.il/podcasts/25310

“Transparency International – Israel”: http://www.ti-israel.org/ (Hebrew)

Anna Ahronheim, “IDF comptroller to investigate army’s readiness,” JPost, 26.09.2018: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-comptroller-to-investigate-armys-readiness-567994

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#34

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
8
Two major Knesset departments, the Knesset research center and the Knesset’s legal advisory department, serve as structural resources for acquiring information. The role of the research center is to equip Knesset members, committees and departments with information and research to meet the requirements of their parliamentary work, including reports on government activities. The research center is a massive document producer. According to information provided on the center’s official website, the Knesset’s research center receives on average 500 research requests and produces 300 documents annually, which amounts to a total of about 6,500 documents since its establishment in 2000. In addition, according to the same source, most of the research documents are produced by the center’s staff, but – in cases that require specific expertise – the research center employs external research services. The research topics themselves are highly diverse.

The Knesset’s archive and library are also used to monitor the government’s major activities. Since 2015, each member of parliament has been entitled to employ three assistants, who often engage in independent research on behalf of the member of parliament. Legislators’ oversight capabilities have also been aided by recent government reforms, making information more accessible, and by information provided by outside experts and lobbyists. In addition, Knesset members may demand that members of the government provide information directly (either within the framework of its committee system or in the plenum), or by means of debates, agenda motions or parliamentary questions.

Additionally, the State Comptroller is, according to law, subordinated to the Knesset, and he hands to it all of his reports and other information and recommendations for better oversight over the government. The State Comptroller himself (or, at times, representatives on his behalf) is also an active participant in the Knesset’s State Audit Committee.

In July 2017, a new instrument was added to the Knesset’s toolbox with the establishment of the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit (abbreviated in Hebrew to “Katef”). According to the unit’s self-reported information and the speeches at the initiation ceremony (in February 2018), Katef’s role is to improve the Knesset’s oversight abilities, and to improve the relationship and dialogue between the Knesset and the government. Among other rather vague authorities and goals, the Katef unit also undertakes several tasks of oversight itself. Indeed, Katef has published three reports, which focus on a given policy, detail its goals and the tasks each ministry or governmental authority undertook to implement the policy, and analyze its present stage of implementation and its achievements. However, while the reports are very useful and important, they lack uniformity and it remains unclear in what direction the unit wants to go.

Citations:
A Pamphlet Explaining About the Katef Unit’s Vision, Fields of Operation, and Its Short History of Establishment, Undated. Available Online Through the Katef Unit’s “About” Webpage (see link below). (Hebrew)

Alon, Gideon. “The fa is on the Shoulder [also Katef].” In: Israel Today website. July 23rd, 2017. (Hebrew): https://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/492397

Arlozorov, Meirav. “How the Knesset Broke the World Record in Proposing Private Bills.” In TheMarker. May 16th, 2017 (Hebrew): https://www.themarker.com/news/politics/1.4091536

Azulay, Moran. “Exposure: On the Way to a Revolution in Legislation and Oversight of the Knesset over the Government.” In Ynet. February 2nd, 2017. (Hebrew): https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4917549,00.html.

Ben-David, Lior, “A comparative survey on the status, function and employment conditions of parliamentary assistants,” Knesset research institute 4.11.2004 (Hebrew)

Blander, Dana. “Opinion as to the corrections to Base Law: the Knesset, Base Law: the Government and the Knesset Act Regarding the Authorities of Parlamentary Committees of Public Inquiry.” The Israeli Democracy Institute. July 4th, 2017. (Hebrew)

“Correction: Debate on ‘Hok Ha-Hesderim 2013,” Open Knesset website (Hebrew)

“Is Bagatz mocking the petition against the treasury?,” Globes website 18.6.2014: http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000947260 (Hebrew).

Israel. The Knesset. Katef – the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit. The Initiation Event of the Katef Unit – the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit. A press release. February 19th, 2018. (Hebrew)

Israel. The Knesset. Katef – the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit. The Law for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment, 1998: Oversight Report; Implementation Examination in Marking 20 Years to the Law. For deliberation in the State Audit Committee. February 27th, 2018. Retrieved from https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Oversight/Pages/OversightSupervisoryProducts.aspx (Hebrew)

Israel. The Knesset. Katef – the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit. Oversight Process of the Implementation of the recommendations of the Committee for the War on Poverty – February 2018. February 2018. Retrieved from https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Oversight/Pages/OversightSupervisoryProducts.aspx (Hebrew)

Israel. The Knesset. Katef – the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit. Oversight Process of the Implementation of the Committee for the War on Poverty’s Report. Second Report. June 2018. Retrieved from https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Oversight/Pages/OversightSupervisoryProducts.aspx (Hebrew)

Friedberg, Chen. How to Improve the Knesset as a Legislative and Oversight Body: Key Recommendations. Updated Edition. Israel: the Israel Democracy Institute, 2018. (Hebrew)

Galnoor, Itzhak, and Dana Blander. The Political System of Israel: Formative Years; Institutional Structure; Political Behaviour; Unsolved Problems; Democracy in Israel. Tel Aviv: Am Oved Publishers Ltd., 2013, two volumes. (Hebrew) “Information and research in the Knesset,” Knesset website (Hebrew)

“In the Knesset corridors,” IDI website (September 2010) (Hebrew)

“Katef Unit – About.” In the Katef unit’s website. https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Oversight/Pages/OversightAbout.aspx

Knesset Legal advisory department (list of legal research) http://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Info/Pages/LegalDeptSurveys.aspx

Knesset Research Center Summary of 2016 https://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/m03933.pdf (Hebrew)

Lapid, Yair, and Ayelet Shaked. “Stopping the Legislation’s Madness.” In HaShiloach website. March 15th, 2017. (Hebrew) https://hashiloach.org.il/%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%A6%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%90%D7%AA-%D7%98%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%A3-%D7%94%D7%97%D7%A7%D7%A7%D7%AA/.
Public Inquiry Commissions Act, 1968 (Hebrew)
Shapira, Asaf, “A decade to the Knesset’s research and information center,” IDI website (September 2010) (Hebrew)

The Knesset’s Rules of Procedure, up to date as of June 14th, 2018. (specifically article 135, “the Authorities of a Parlamentary Committee of Public Inquiry and the Presentation of a Report to the Knesset,” clause A; also article 127, “Failure of Arrival [to a committee] and Failure of Presenting of Information”). (Hebrew)
“The MK’s will get a third Parliamentary Assistant. How much will that cost us?” The Marker 28.10.2015: http://www.themarker.com/news/1.2761401 (Hebrew)

“The Relationship with the Knesset.” In the State Comptrollers official website in English. http://www.mevaker.gov.il/En/About/Pages/KnessetContact.aspx

Zerahia, Zvi, “The treasury is deliberately holding out information from PMs so we can’t supervise it,” The Marker 7.1.2014: http://www.themarker.com/news/1.2210843 (Hebrew)

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not request government documents.
Obtaining Documents
7
According to Israel’s basic laws and the Knesset’s Rules of Procedure, the executive or appointed officials must attend and provide information to Knesset committees upon request, unless information is considered confidential. However, the law contains no specific provisions or sanctions for enforcement in cases of disobedience and lack of compliance or the provision of insufficient or inaccurate information. Thus, the parliament has only general or disproportionate means of response, such as passing a motion of no confidence or reporting to the Civil Service Commission. These options do not provide a solution to mundane problems, such as receiving unreliable information from the government.

In recent months, several members of parliament and the minister of justice have worked to draft a reform initiative involving two components: limiting the amount of private legislation and strengthening the Knesset’s oversight capacity. The reform proposal would enhance Knesset committees’ role in overseeing their corresponding ministries, expand their roles in approving ministry budgets, and give them greater power to summon civil service appointees to public hearings. But, there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest anything meaningful has yet come out of this initiative.

Citations:
Fridberg, Chen, “The Knesset committees from an oversight perspective: Chronicle of a failure foretold?,” Studies in Israel’s revival 20 (2010) 49-79: http://in.bgu.ac.il/bgi/iyunim/20/a3.pdf (Hebrew)

Knesset Rules of Procedure, Section H, Chapter 7

Plesner, Yohanan, “There is Still Hope for Knesset Reform,” IDI Website, 10/8/17, https://en.idi.org.il/articles/18582

Zerahia, Zvi, “The treasury is deliberately holding out information from PMs so we can’t supervise it,” TheMarker 7.1.2014: http://www.themarker.com/news/1.2210843 (Hebrew)

Roznai, Yaniv, Liana Volach, Law reform in Israel, in “The Theory and Practice of Legislation,” 6(2018)2, pp. 291-320: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20508840.2018.1478330

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
7
Parliamentary committees are able to summon ministers. According to the basic law’s provisions on the Knesset, every committee may require a minister to appear before it, and the minister is obliged either to attend the meeting or send a representative to provide the required information. Officials invited by committees generally attend meetings as requested. However, ministers and other public figures do occasionally refuse requests or provide insufficient information, causing conflicts between the Knesset and the government. Committees have no real power to enforce sanctions in these cases. Moreover, they are not authorized to force a minister to provide information at a set date in order to better prepare for meeting. This is part of the motivation behind the recent reform proposed by several Knesset members. The reform proposal would enhance Knesset committees’ role in overseeing their corresponding ministries, expand their roles in approving ministry budgets, and give them greater power to summon civil service appointees to public hearings.

One exception to the rule detailed above is the Knesset’s State Audit Committee. Since 1990, the audit committee has be able to warrant the attendance of officials, and fine officials who failed to show up to the committee or sufficiently justify their lack of compliance. (Though the size of the fine is not specified).

Citations:
Ataeli, Amichai, “The Evasion and its Punishment,” Yedioth Aharonot, 07.07.2016, http://www.yediot.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4825644,00.html (Hebrew)

Lis, Jonathan, “Instead of an investigation committee, a decoration committee: In the Knesset they are jealous of American congress,” Haaretz 7.9.2014: http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/.premium-1.2426295 (Hebrew)

Plesner, Yohanan, “There is Still Hope for Knesset Reform,” IDI Website, 10.8.2017, https://en.idi.org.il/articles/18582

“The Legislature’s Authority to Inquire Information, and the Obligation to Provide True Information,” Knesset Research and Information Center (December 2002). (Hebrew)

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
9
Parliamentary committees are entitled to invite experts or any interested civilian to meetings, as described in Section 6 of the Knesset regulations. However, these figures are not obligated to attend, unlike civil servants or representatives of the executive. In addition, independent experts are not compelled to answer committee members’ questions. Their testimony cannot serve as evidence, and has no official status. A bill presented in 2016 by parliamentarian Yoav Kish (Likud party) proposed an expansion of committee authority, including the ability to punish civilians who failed to appear after being summoned. At the time of writing, the bill is still waiting for its preliminary reading in the plenum and the committees have not yet been delegated an authority to sanction. Despite these issues, citizens who appear before Knesset committees are generally interested in voicing their opinions in order to reinforce their viewpoints in the eyes of decision-makers and the public.

Citations:
Blander, Dana. “Opinion regarding Corrections to Base Law: the Knesset, Base Law: the Government and the Knesset Act concerning the Authorities of Parlamentary Inquiry Committee.” The Israeli Democracy Institute. July 4th, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.idi.org.il/ministerial-committee/16190 (Hebrew).

Freidberg, Chen and Atmor, Nir, “How to improve the Knesset’s position as a legislator and a supervisory body?” The Israel Democracy Institute 2013: http://www.idi.org.il/media/2438022/00321913.pdf (Hebrew).

Shapira, Asaf, “Citizens in the Parliamentary Committees,” The Israel Democracy Institute, (September 2010). (Hebrew).

“The authority of the legislature to inquire information, and the obligation to provide true information,” Knesset Research and Information Center (December 2002). (Hebrew).

Kam, Zeev,“Refused to show up in a Knesset committee after summoning? A punishment will follow” NRG 19.4.2016 http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/770/601.html (Hebrew)

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
3
Knesset committees are currently not well structured for efficient government monitoring. The structure of the ministries and the parliament’s committees diverges significantly: The Knesset has 12 permanent committees, while the number of ministries shifts according to political agreements, totaling 30 at of the time of writing (headed by 22 ministers, including the prime minister). Since parliamentary committees are divided by themes and not by ministerial responsibilities, they often struggle to gather and coordinate information. High turnover rates among representatives also makes it difficult to control professional and bureaucratic information. Although the number of committees is average by global standards, the combination of a small number of parliamentarians (120) and the usually broad coalitions results in only two-thirds of all members being available to sit on committees regularly. Some members of the Knesset sit on as many as five or six committees, inevitably impairing their committees’ supervisory capabilities.

Citations:
Freidberg, Chen, “Monitoring of the executive by the parliament in Israel – potential and function,” Doctoral Dissertation (2008) (Hebrew).

Freidberg, Chen and Atmor, Ronen, “How to improve the Knesset’s position as a legislator and a supervisory body?” The Israel Democracy Institute 2013: http://www.idi.org.il/media/2438022/00321913.pdf
(Hebrew).

Kenig, Ofer, “The new Israeli cabinet: An overview of the 33rd government of Israel,” Israel Democracy Institute. (March 2013).

Kenig, Ofer, “Coalition building in Israel: A guide for the perplexed,” Israel Democracy Institute. (February 2013).

“Knesset Committees,” The Knesset Website: 
https://www.knesset.gov.il/deSCRIPTion/eng/eng_work_vaada.htm


“Ministries,” Prime Minister’s Office Website (Hebrew):
http://www.pmo.gov.il/IsraelGov/Pages/GovMinistries.aspx

Media

#25

To what extent do media in your country analyze the rationale and impact of public policies?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing public policies. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
7
Israel’s media industry is adapting to the global trend of decreased consumption of print and radio news media and the increased dominance of television, the internet and social-media websites. While the Israeli media sector has been bolstered in recent years by the creation of strong independent investigatory websites and blogs that have gained considerable attention in professional and public circles, other new popular outlets such as the free daily Israel Ha’yom often fail to deliver in-depth news coverage.

Despite a frequent tendency to focus on prominent and popular topics of the hour, the Israeli press, public television channels and radio shows do offer interpretative and investigatory journalism that informs the public regarding policy decisions and long-term strategies. Nonetheless, the growing rate of news consumption through social-media websites, the decline in citizens’ exposure to print media and TV, and the shallow nature of coverage in new media all significantly reduce the percentage of civilians exposed to in-depth journalistic information.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s Israeli Democracy Index of 2017, while the public still prefers traditional media channels to social media as their political news source of choice, public trust in social media is revealed to be a more complicated issue. Although the public in general appears to put less trust in social media compared to traditional media, dividing the sample according to ethnicity reveals that the Arab population expresses far larger distrust in social media than the Jewish population, in which the younger audience appears to be just slightly more trusting of social media than the older audience. Therefore, increasing reliance on social media might be an issue of concern

Citations:
Goldenberg, Roi, “‘The seventh eye’ website won the Israeli prize for critical media,” Globes 28.1.2013: http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000817765 (Hebrew)

Mann, Rafi and Lev-on, Azi, “Annual report: Media in Israel 2016 – agendas, uses and trends,” Ariel University School of Communication: https://store.ariel.ac.il/downloadable/download/sample/sample_id/6/ (Hebrew)

Persisco, Oren, “Restraint and prudence,” The seventh eye website: http://www.the7eye.org.il/9774 (Hebrew).

“Freedom of the Press: Israel 2017,” Freedom House, 2017 https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/israel

Parties and Interest Associations

#10

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Decision-Making
7
The eleven parties with Knesset seats following the 2015 elections demonstrate varying levels of intra-party democracy. The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has issued a Party Democracy Index, a mechanism that allows voters to evaluate the degree of internal democracy practiced by political parties. In this assessment on the eve of 2015 elections, the long-standing rightist Likud party and the Labor party were ranked top. In fact, the three topmost parties, Likud, Labor and the Arab Joint List (AJL), showed above average of intra-party democracy. However, other parties demonstrated very low intra-party democracy, especially ultra-orthodox parties and right-wing parties. New parties, mostly centrist parties, such as Yesh Atid (YA), Kulanu and Hatnua displayed middling intra-party democracy scores. In 2018, the Parties Act of 1992 was amended to allow candidates in a given (and large enough) party’s primary elections to loan (and – in accordance with many conditions – to receive) funds from the state treasury for their campaign and to regulate how much a candidate can spend in a given campaign. The law also enforces supervision and oversight over a given party’s primary elections and party register by the State Comptroller in order to ensure the propriety of the overall procedure.

The Likud, the Labor and the Jewish Home (JH) parties all choose their candidates through primary elections. In this internal election process, registered party members are given the right to choose Knesset candidates. The parties that use this method require a minimum membership duration in order to vote in the primary. The Labor, Likud and JH parties also have elective representative institutions that take part in decision-making processes such as the selection of the parties’ representatives in the government, votes on whether their parties will join or leave a governing coalition, and debates over policy stances. In other parties such as the YA party, the Kulano party and the Israel Beytenu party, some consultation with party members is conducted, but important decisions are made by top ranking members. For example, according to the YA party’s regulations, the party’s leader and founder will remain leader until the end of the 20th Knesset. Moreover, in both parties, the regulations authorize the party’s leader to decide on most important personnel issues, such as the list of electoral candidates. These figures also hold considerable power within the party’s institutions, thus retaining significant influence over policy decisions.

Citations:
The Knesset website: “Parliamentary groups of the Twentieth Knesset,” https://www.knesset.gov.il/faction/eng/FactionCurrent_eng.asp

Adameker, Yaki. “After Walla!News’ Exposure: Netanyahu Blocks the ‘Immunity Act.’” Walla!News. 2018: (Hebrew) https://news.walla.co.il/item/3195377

Adameker, Yaki. “First Publish: MK Zohar’s Bill to Prevent an Indictment Against Netanyahu.” In Walla!News. October 23rd, 2018 (Hebrew): https://news.walla.co.il/item/3195204.

Adameker, Yaki. “‘This Is How the End Looks Like’: MK Cabel Assults the Labor’s Chairman Gabbay.” In Walla!News. June 22nd, 2018. (Hebrew): https://news.walla.co.il/item/3167881.

Arlozorov, Meirav. “The Likud Behaves as a Monopoly.” In TheMarker website. February 22nd, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.themarker.com/opinion/1.5843335.

Bender, Arik. “First Publish: Submission to the Likud Stopped Because of Fear from ‘the New Likudniks.’” In Ma’ariv Online website. August 14th, 2017. (Hebrew): https://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-595433.

Bender, Arik. “New Initiative to Prevent Donations from Ministers Supporting ‘the New Likudniks.’” In Ma’ariv Online website. September 17th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-599694.

Bender, Arik. “The Party Membership of 12 ‘New Likudniks’ Was Rescinded.” In Ma’ariv Online website. October 30th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-605702.

Chay, Shachar. “MK Peretz: ‘Gabbay Changes the Character [or nature] of the Party.’” In Ynet. June 24th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5295112,00.html.

Hecht, Ravit. “After Very Difficult Two Weeks, in the Likud People Are Being Torn between Loyalty to the Leader and Supporting the Law Enforcement Authorities.” In Ha’aretz website. March 1st, 2018. (Hebrew).
https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/.premium-MAGAZINE-1.5864017.

Kenig, Ofer and Shapira, Assaf, “Primary Season in Israel,” Israel Democracy Institute, 2012.
Khoury, Jack. “Israeli Arab Party Fails to Condemn Assad’s Gas Attack in Syria, Slams U.S. Strikes.” In Ha’aretz website. April 9th, 2017. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-arab-party-split-over-condemning-syria-chemical-attack-1.5459116.

“Law Bill.” In the Knesset’s official website (regarding “Bill of the MKs’ Immunity, Rights and Duties Act (Amendment – Immunity from Criminal Judgement),” by Miki Zohar). Last seen: October 25th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Legislation/Laws/Pages/LawBill.aspx?t=lawsuggestionssearch&lawitemid=2074695.

Levinson, Chaim. “A Strike to Gabbay: The Court Cancelled the Labor Party’s Conference Planned for Today.” In Ha’aretz website. June 24th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/.premium-1.6200797.

Levinson, Chaim. “Between Going to Meretz and Joining Gantz: the Zionist Camp’s in Crisis, and MKs are Looking for a Way Out.” In Ha’aretz website. June 27th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/.premium-1.6217778.

“Likud’s Constitution,” Likud Website (Hebrew).

“Netanyahu Following Ma’ariv’s Exposure: ‘The New Likudniks – Old Leftists.’” In Ma’ariv Online website. August 24th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-596671.

Nir, Shay. “Grenades in the APC: ‘The Ruling [lit. decision] Speaks for Itself.’” In FirstThing website. June 19th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.davar1.co.il/133163/.

“Our principles,” Habayit Hayehudi Party website, http://www.baityehudi.org.il/our-principles/ (Hebrew), http://baityehudi.org.il/englp/our.htm (English).

“Provincial Judge on Avi Gabbay: ‘Behaviour [lit. management] that Reminds Dark Regimes.’” In Israel Today website. June 25th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/566505.

Sawa’ed, Khader. “The Conflict in the Arab Society Surrounding the Civil War in Syria.” In the INSS official website. March, 2018. (Hebrew). http://www.inss.org.il/he/publication/%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%97%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%A7%D7%AA-%D7%91%D7%97%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%94-%D7%94%D7%A2%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%99%D7%AA-%D7%A1%D7%91%D7%99%D7%91-%D7%9E%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%9E%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%90%D7%96%D7%A8%D7%97/.

Shalev, Tal. “First Publish: Avi Gabbay Aims [lit. acts] to Cancel Elections to the Labor’s Conference.” In Walla!News. June 8th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://news.walla.co.il/item/3164451.

Shalita, Chen. “With Drawn Swords: In the Likud People Already Prepare to the Day After Netanyahu.” In Globes website. December 16th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001215397.

Solomon, Ido. “The New Likudniks’ Question: Who Are They Really?.” In Mako. August 25th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q3_2017/Article-acd8308d29a1e51004.htm.

“The History of the Movement – The Likud Party.” In the Likud Party’s official website. Last seen: October 28th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.likud.org.il/%D7%A2%D7%9C-%D7%94%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%93/%D7%94%D7%94%D7%99%D7%A1%D7%98%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%94-%D7%A9%D7%9C-%D7%94%D7%AA%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%A2%D7%94.

“The Kulanu Party Regulation: Wide authority to the Chairman, Will decide on his own if to join the coalition.”
Haaretz Newspaper website: http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/elections/.premium-1.2510097 (Hebrew)

“The Likud Party’s Platform.” In Globes. February 22nd, 2015. (Hebrew). https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001012059.

“The New Likudniks | Agenda.” In the New Likudniks’ official website. Last seen: October 28th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.newlikud.org/agenda.

“The New Likudniks | Blog.” In the New Likudniks’ official website (regarding the ideological emphasis on social-democratic elements and the roots in Jabotinsky’s ideology in the group’s agenda). January 31st, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.newlikud.org/blog/date/2018-01.

“The Party Democracy Index,” Israel Democracy Institute, 2015. http://www.idi.org.il/%D7%A1%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9E%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D/%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9E%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D/the_party_democracy_index_2015/

“The Party’s Institutions,” Labor website (Hebrew).

The Political Parties Act, 1992. (Hebrew). (Most specifically, chapter B, “Funding Primary Elections,” mark D, “Special Provisions as to the Issue of Granting Primary Elections” [lit. primary elections that grant]; the mark itself is amendment number 24 to this law, in force since 2018)

“The Recommendations Act Approved Officially [lit. finally] – The Bill Was Supported by 59 MKs and Opposed by 54.” In the Knesset’s official website (a press release). December 28th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://main.knesset.gov.il/News/PressReleases/Pages/press28.12.17.aspx.

Verter, Yossi. “Netanyahu is Isolated as Never Before, and the Doomsday Weapon is On his Desk.” In Ha’aretz website. November 10th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/.premium-1.4588264.

Verter, Yossi. “The Bluff Is Revealed: It Can’t Be Argued that Bitan and Amsalem Act Separately of the Mothership.” In Ha’aretz website. November 24th, 2017. (Hebrew). https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/law/.premium-1.4626288.

“Yesh Atid Party’s Regulation,” Yesh Atid Website (Hebrew).

Zarhia, Zvi, “Financial Aid to Politicians” The Marker, 16.7.2017, https://www.themarker.com/news/politics/1.4258803

To what extent are economic interest associations (e.g., employers, industry, labor) capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Employers & Unions)
8
Israel has a vibrant business community that often interacts with government departments and Knesset representatives in order to advance its agenda in Israel and abroad. At least three major business groups – the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel and a group for coordination between financial organizations – actively pursue policy goals through legal, regulatory or project-based perspectives. All three take part in conferences, perform independent research and publish their agendas. Business organizations also cooperate with academics and institutions to produce research, and some business-oriented think tanks exist. In general, Israeli businesses are well represented in the political sphere, and most economic-interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policy proposals. However, there is a significant degree of social inequality in this practice, as the Arab business sector seldom enjoys such close and productive ties with the government.

The past few months were also very instructive as to the extent businesses are capable of affecting policy. In June 2018, the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee approved a first reading of a bill that would impose greater restrictions and limitations on the advertisement of tobacco products, despite immense pressure and lobbying from tobacco companies. At the time of writing, the bill is currently with the Economic Affairs Committee again, being prepared for its second and third reading in the plenum. The tobacco companies are trying to minimize the damage the bill may potentially cause them, should it be approved and enacted, through large amounts of advertisement and employing corps of lobbyists. Indeed, the first meeting of the committee to deliberate the bill’s second and third reading was attended by many lobbyists, representing both the tobacco companies, and anti-smoking and pro-public health organizations. The meeting dealt with the proposed law’s name and several definitions in it, all the votes on those issues were approved without opposition.

Citations:
Israel. The Knesset. Protocol Number 827 from the Economic Affairs Committee. October 15th, 2018. (Hebrew). Retrieved from https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/committees/Economics/Pages/CommitteeProtocols.aspx?ItemID=2074129

“Law Bill.” In the Knesset’s official website (regarding “Bill of Limitation of the Advertisement and Marketing of Tobacco Products Act (Ammendment Number 7), 2018,” by several MKs). Last Seen: October 28th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Legislation/Laws/Pages/LawBill.aspx?t=lawsuggestionssearch&lawitemid=2020202.

Linder-Gantz, Roni. “The Advertisement Blitz: The Smoking Companies Are Out for a Final Battle.” In TheMarker website. October 15th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.themarker.com/news/health/.premium-1.6554561.

Linder-Gantz, Roni. “The Day the Smoke around the Tobacco Advertisement Cleared – and the MKs Chose the Side of the Public.” In TheMarker website. June 26th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.themarker.com/consumer/health/.premium-1.6213257.

Miller, Elhanan, “Finance minister says government has failed Arabs,” Times of Israel, 24.02. 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/finance-minister-says-government-has-failed-arabs/.

“The chamber for coordination between financial organizations,” Maot website (Hebrew)

Solomon, Shoshanna, “Netanyahu to head panel to tackle high-tech workers pinch,” The Times of Israel, 28.12.2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-to-head-panel-to-tackle-high-tech-workers-pinch/

The Industry Association Press Releases, http://www.industry.org.il/%D7%94%D7%95%D7%93%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%9C%D7%A2%D7%99%D7%AA%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%AA

“Israel Business Conference 2016,” Globes, http://www.globes.co.il/news/home.aspx?fid=8750

“Netanyahu to open Globes Business Conference on Wed,” Globes, 18.12.2018: https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-netanyahu-to-open-globes-business-on-wed-1001265135

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
6
Noneconomic associations and NGOs have become increasingly influential in recent years, with over 47,000 non-profit organizations registered with the Ministry of Justice. Along with professional consultancy firms, they fill the gap left by state’s privatization policies. Both social and environmental interest groups often formulate relevant policies and cooperate with government and academic bodies. According to official reports, the majority of organizations are focused on education and professional training (22%), religious matters (21.6%), and welfare (20.3%). According to a recent report by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, welfare NGOs account for 15% of all civil society organizations and their annual activity volume amounts to ILS 13.8 billion. The report also claims that donations made to these organizations increase Israeli welfare spending by ILS 3.45 billion, amounting to 28% of Israel’s total annual social welfare expenditure.

In 2016, the Knesset passed highly controversial legislation that requires NGOs to publicly declare all foreign funding sources (if the funds account for most of their budget), and the purpose and use of the funding. It should be elaborated that in the law, “foreign” (or, the more accurately, “foreign state entity”) is defined very widely, and includes foreign states, state authorities and international NGOs. Left-wing and civil rights groups have argued that the so-called NGO transparency bill harms organizations that promote democracy and democratic worldviews. The bill is regarded as part of a growing trend of legislative attempts to erode the strength of democratic institutions in Israel.

In May 2018, new regulations regarding the submission of representative action came into force. The regulations dictate the payment of relatively high fees (with varying quantities according to the court’s status) to be paid by a claimant to submit a suit and to cover the cost of the litigation process in its entirety (though payment of the latter fee is dependent on the ruling’s result). The minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked, explained in the regulations’ memorandum (i.e., before these were enacted) that the purpose of the new rules is to limit the submissions of “pseudo representative actions,” meaning lawsuits that are not meant to achieve any result or compensation but rather to deter the party being charged, thus wasting public funds. Nevertheless, the regulations were still criticized by legal experts, and social activists and associations that use representative actions to fight social and consumer injustices. Recently, a lawsuit was presented to the Supreme Court demanding that the regulations be rescinded for the disproportional harm they cause to the right to access to courts. At the time of writing, the suit is still in litigation and the regulations are still in force.

Citations:
ACRI. Anti-NGO Legislation in the Israeli Knesset. February 2016, http://www.acri.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Anti-NGO-Bills-Overview-Updated-Febuary-2016.pdf

“Collaborative discourse in the Civil Society” March 2016, Civic Leadership in Israel, (Hebrew)
http://migzar3.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/report-2016_web-1.pdf

Guidestar, the NGOs’ website of Israel. By the Ministry of Justice. (Hebrew). Last seen: October 31st, 2018. https://www.guidestar.org.il/home

HCJ 3646/18 Yedid Centers of Rights in the Community V the Minister of Justice (Hebrew) (Ongoing)
Kalian, Gil “The non-profit sector in Israel is smaller than thought,” Calcalist 16/3/2016, http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3683649,00.html (Hebrew)

Madhala, Shavit, et al. Israeli Welfare Organizations: A Snapshot. Policy Paper 03.2018. Internet Edition. Jerusalem: the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, 2018.

Memorandum of Ordinances of Courts (Fees) (Representative Action), 2017. (Hebrew). Full text: https://www.nevo.co.il/law_html/law11/43143.htm

Nisan, Limor, “Civil society and the third sector in Israel,” IDI paper for the 10th Caesarea conference, June 2010: http://www.idi.org.il/media/526545/%D7%97%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%94%20%D7%90%D7%96%D7%A8%D7%97%D7%99%D7%AA%20%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%92%D7%96%D7%A8%20%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%99%20%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C.pdf (Hebrew)

Regulations of Courts (Fees), 2007 (Hebrew)

Shamai, Barkat. “Starting Today: Significant Fees on Submission of Representative Actions.” In Globes website. May 8th, 2018. (Hebrew)..

The Associations Act, 1980 (Hebrew)

“The Clinic for Representation Populations from the Periphery Presented a Lawsuit Against the Ordinances Dictating for the First Time a High Fee at the Time of Submitting a Request for the Approval of Representative Action.” In the Center for Clinical Legal Education’s website. Last seen: November 4th, 2018. (Hebrew).. [Here the statement of claim can be found]

The Obligation to Reveal as to Who is Supported by Foreign Statal Entity Act, 2011 (Hebrew)

“The transparency law has passed finally” Knesset website 12.7.2016, http://main.knesset.gov.il/News/PressReleases/pages/press120716.aspx (Hebrew)

Independent Supervisory Bodies

#21

Does there exist an independent and effective audit office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent audit office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent audit office, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent audit office, but its role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an independent and effective audit office.
Audit Office
9
The Knesset’s audit functions are divided between three main institutions: the State Comptroller, the State Audit Committee and the Knesset Internal Audit Department. However, the State Comptroller is independent and legally anchored in a basic law that acknowledges its importance. The Knesset audit committee is in charge of following up on reports issued by the State Comptroller. While the State Comptroller enjoys independence and adequate resources, it does not hold sanction power. Instead, its mandate ends with the submission of its findings and the establishment of an advisory committee for implementing its recommendations in the audited office. However, its responsibility to audit financial contributions during elections is accompanied by external judicial sanction powers.

The State Audit Committee’s chairman, MK Shelly Yachimovich, mentioned in a recent interview that, while reports that deal with important issues and failures don’t have much hope of repairing systemic problems, “reports that involve the ministers directly are of great concern to them,” even if the reports themselves don’t include any real sanction.

The law establishes the State Comptroller as exclusively accountable to the Knesset. Accordingly, while the judiciary’s budget is determined by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, the State Comptroller’s budget is allocated by the Knesset’s finance committee. Some argue that the State Comptroller could benefit from further institutional independence, since current arrangements allow the Knesset to request an investigation into a specific area, for example. While understandable, this may undermine the office’s ability to set an independent agenda and strategic yearly plans.

In 2017, MK Bezalel Smotrich presented to the Knesset a bill to amend the State Comptroller Act of 1958, proposing to strip the comptroller of substantial authorities that in actuality cement his independence. The most important of these authorities is the State Comptroller’s authority to choose any topic or field to audit that was not specified in this act. At the time of writing, the bill is still awaiting its preliminary reading in the plenum. The State Audit Committee’s chairman, MK Yachimovich, mentioned in that same interview that, in addition to this bill, “there are a lot of schemes and intentions of audited corpora [lit. factors] to sterilize the comptroller.”

Citations:
Avital, Tomer, “The State Comptroller: In recent years there has not been actual auditing of the Knesset’s administration,” Calcalist 11.5.2010: http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3404250,00.html (Hebrew).

Bezalel Smotrich. Serial number: P/20/4167. Internal number: 2010953. Placed in the Knesset’s plenum on May 8th, 2017. (Hebrew). Full text: https://www.nevo.co.il/law_html/law04/20_lst_383235.htm (most specifically article 1, “Amendment of Article 10,” clause 1)

Gideon, Alon. “‘There Are Schemes of the Audited to Sterilize the State Comptroller,” Israel Hayom, October 22nd, 2018, p. 21. (Hebrew)

Israel. The Knesset. Bill of the State Comptroller Act (Amendment – Reporting of Correction of Deficiencies), 2017.

“Law Bill.” In the Knesset’s official website (regarding “Bill of the State Comptroller Act (Amendment – Reporting of Correction of Deficiencies),” by Bezalel Smotrich). Last seen: October 24th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Legislation/Laws/Pages/LawBill.aspx?t=lawsuggestionssearch&lawitemid=2010953.

Tamir, Michal, “The State Comptroller: A critical look,” Israel Democracy Institute. (2009). (Hebrew).

The State Comptroller Act, 1958 [Integrated Edition [or Version]] (Hebrew) (most specifically article 10, “The Audit’s Magnitude,” clause A, reference 3)

The State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel website, http://www.mevaker.gov.il/En/Pages/default.aspx
“Basic Law: The State Comptroller, passed by the Knesseth on February 15, 1988,” text (English), http://www.mevaker.gov.il/En/Laws/Documents/Laws-Basic-law.pdf

Does there exist an independent and effective ombuds office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an effective and independent ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
8
The State Comptroller also serves as the state ombudsman. Under this role, the office is authorized to investigate complaints raised by the public regarding ministries, local authorities, state institutions and government corporations. Citizens may file a complaint free of charge if they believe that they were directly or indirectly harmed by an act or an activity of the government; if an act is against the law, without lawful authority, or violates principles of good governance; or if an act is unduly strict or clearly unjust. The office is not obliged to investigate complaints against the president of the state; the Knesset, its committees, or its members, if the complaint refers to acts related to official duties; or a number of other similar issues.

The number of complaints submitted under this provision has risen every year. According to the State Ombudsman’s latest report in 2017, a total of 13,573 complaints were submitted to his office, of which 12,822 were within his authority to review. Also, as mentioned in the same report, in 2017 the State Ombudsman received a total of 15,157 complaints, of which 12,429 (82%) were viewed (i.e., they were in the State Ombudsman’s jurisdiction) and 43.8% were found justified after review (i.e., found justified by the State Ombudsman or the issue of complaint was rectified as the review was in progress).

The other body to be mentioned is the Commissioner for Soldiers’ Complaints. Though authorized to handle complaints regarding the IDF only, the authorization to submit a complaint is very wide. Furthermore, this institution expressed a degree of independence previously uncharacteristic of it, with the commissioner’s latest (and last for his term in office) report of 2017 he harshly criticized the IDF’s lack of readiness for a potential future armed conflict. In his latest report of 2017, the commissioner received 7,002 complaints (compared to 6,758 in the previous year), of which 59.08% were found justified.

Citations:
Comptroller and the Ombudsman official website: http://www.mevaker.gov.il/sites/Ombudsman/Pages/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 (Hebrew).

Israel. The Commissioner for Soldiers’ Complaints. Annual Report 46, 2017. Tel Aviv: The Security Ministry Press, 2018 (Hebrew): http://www.nakhal.idf.il/1073-he/Nakhal.aspx

Israel. The State Ombudsman. Annual Report 44 for the Year of 2017. June 18th, 2018. (Hebrew): http://www.mevaker.gov.il/he/Reports/Pages/633.aspx?entity=

Lev Ram, Tal. “The Commissioner for Soldiers’ Complaints to Liberman and Eizenkot: The IDF isn’t Ready for War.”
Ma’ariv Online. July 13th, 2018 (Hebrew): https://www.maariv.co.il/news/military/Article-661030.

Limor, Yoav. “‘The IDF is in Peak Preparedness, the Commissioner for Soldiers’ Complaints is Wrong.’” Israel Hayom. September 19th, 2018 Hebrew): https://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/588377.

Office of the Ombudsman brochure: http://www.mevaker.gov.il/he/Ombudsman/Guidecomplainant/Documents/ntz_english.pdf

“The Ombudsman yearly review number 43 for 2016,” The State comptroller Website (Hebrew), http://www.mevaker.gov.il/he/Reports/Pages/591.aspx

The State comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel. Website: State http://www.mevaker.gov.il/(X(1)S(5rxc1pa0jpc1qkpdphpupj5p))/En/Pages/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Ziton, Yoav, and Yaron Drukman. “The Complaints Commissioner Warns of Deficiencies in the Readiness for War: ‘You Will Fall Off Your Feet from the Reports.’” In Ynet. June 25th, 2018 (Hebrew): https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5296079,00.html.

Ziton, Yoav. “The Outrage of the Harsh Report Over the IDF’s Readiness for War: ‘There were Negligence, Carelessness and Unacceptable Behaviour [lit. “Unworthy Culture”].” Ynet. September 26th, 2018 (Hebrew): https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5358401,00.html.

Is there an independent authority in place that effectively holds government offices accountable for handling issues of data protection and privacy?

10
 9

An independent and effective data protection authority exists.
 8
 7
 6


An independent and effective data protection authority exists, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


A data protection authority exists, but both its independence and effectiveness are strongly limited.
 2
 1

There is no effective and independent data protection office.
Data Protection Authority
7
Israel’s cyber security policy in the civilian sector has evolved over the past two decades, starting with the Management of Security in Public Corpora Act of 1998. The act detailed the security requirements for information systems belonging to entities defined as “essential” to the state’s function, such as companies operating and maintaining national level infrastructure. In 2002, the government decided that the National Authority for Information Security in the Israeli Security Agency (in Hebrew “Shabak”) would direct these essential entities. In 2011, the government decided to develop its national cyber capabilities further by establishing the National Cyber Headquarters in the Prime Minister’s Office, charged with, among other things, the responsibility for managing the national cyber policy and strategy, and developing the national cyber capabilities. In 2015, the government established another cyber-related unit in the Prime Minister’s Office named the National Cyber Security Authority, whose role is to defend the civilian cyber space in general and critical state assets more specifically. Lastly, in 2018, the authority and the headquarters were conjoined to form the National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to the prime minister.

The National Cyber Directorate and the Authority for the Protection of Privacy are distinct in character and operation. The former has a more active character, actively defending the Israeli cyberspace and fighting hostile or criminal elements. The latter, on the other hand, has a more passive character, concerns first and foremost with the protection of citizen privacy, and secondly with how individuals and organizations should ensure the security of information they hold.

While the directorate appears to be mostly entrusted with the regulation and defense of essential infrastructure, the services it offers extend to the individual citizen too. The directorate’s official website provides advice and information concerning cyber activity and security, including contact details (phone and email) in the event of a cyber assault. The directorate is also entrusted with training and certifying professionals across different cyber-related professions, and lately announced the launch of a first course to train certified inspectors. In addition, in light of the upcoming Israeli national elections, the directorate has also published a guide for safe behavior in and management of cyberspace, which aims to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process. The guide is targeted at individuals as well as organizations, and details common cyber assault methods, and practical advice for protection and safety.

Citations:
Israel. The State Comptroller. “Aspects in the State’s Preparations in Defense of the Cyber Space,” Annual Report, 67(1), 2018, Jerusalem, vol. 1, pp. 3-10. (Hebrew) (Also available here: http://www.mevaker.gov.il/he/Reports/Report_552/b9842c3e-e157-4f16-9529-df1aca2002cb/101-cyber.pdf).

Goichman, Rafaela. “A Hacker Attack or Just an Amateurish Website? What Brought Down the Website Made for the Elections Day,” TheMarker, November 1st, 2018, p. 2. (Hebrew).

Goichman, Rafaela. “‘There Was No Internet Reception’: the Crashed Elections Results’ Website Still Isn’t Back Running.” In TheMarker website. November 1st, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.themarker.com/technation/1.6614011.

Memorandum for the Cyber Security and the National Cyber Directorate Act, 2018. (Hebrew). Full text: https://www.nevo.co.il/law_html/law11/44319.htm

Siboni, Gabi, and Ido Sivan-Sevilla. Cyber Regulation. Memorandum 180. Tel Aviv: The Institute for National Security Studies, 2018. (Hebrew).

“The Government ICT Authority | About the Government ICT Authority.” In the Government ICT Authority’s official website. Last updated: May 2nd, 2015. (Hebrew). https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/about/about_ict_authority.

“The National Cyber Directorate | About the National Cyber Directorate.” In the Israel National Cyber Directorate’s official website. Last updated: October 24th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/about/newabout.

“The National Cyber Directorate.” In the Israel National Cyber Directorate’s official website (main page). Last seen: November 1st, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/israel_national_cyber_directorate.

“The National Cyber Directorate | The Directorate is Happy to Announce the Opening of the First Course for the Training of Certified Inspectors in the Market [lit. economy].” In the Israel National Cyber Directorate’s official website. September 12th, 2018. (Hebrew). https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/news/supplychaintraining.

Ziv, Amitai, ‘A Shin Bet Puppet.’ What Went Wrong With Israel’s Cybersecurity Agency, Ha’aretz, 29.8.2018: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-cybersecurity-agency-drops-role-of-protecting-business-1.6429506
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