Israel

   

Quality of Democracy

#31
Key Findings
With ongoing tension over its treatment of Palestinians, Israel scores relatively poorly (rank 31) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.5 points relative to 2014.

Despite generally open and free elections, candidates can be banned for rejecting Israel’s Jewish identity, among other issues. Parties receive private and public funding, with considerable spending oversight and large fines levied for rule violations. Critics argue that a new law diminishing state funding for joint party lists was designed to break up an Arab party group.

Israeli Arabs’ underrepresentation in the broadcast media and in public-opinion surveys has gained new attention. A new online-content law allows authorities to demand removal of a wide range of content online. Laws penalizing criticism of the Israeli state or Israeli symbols are becoming more common. Arabs experience systematic discrimination and infringements of civil rights, and are politically marginalized.

Gender equality remains a significant concern. The judiciary is independent and regularly rules against the government. A number of prominent politicians have been involved in corruption scandals, with investigations targeting the prime minister and other figures.

Electoral Processes

#29

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
8
Israel is an electoral democracy. While it does not have an official constitution, one of its basic laws (“The Knesset” 1958), which holds special standing in the Israeli legal framework, constitutes a general, free, equal, discrete, direct and proportional elections, to be held every four years. The Basic Law promises equal opportunity for each Israeli citizen (as well as Jewish settlers in the territories) to elect and to be elected under certain reasonable restraints. To be elected for the Knesset, a candidate has to be a citizen over the age of 21, with no incarceration of over a three-month period in the seven years prior to his/her nomination (unless authorized by the head of the central elections committee). If the nominee held a prominent public office (as specified in the written law) he or she must wait until the expiration of the cooling period. Under the party law of 1992, the general elections are led by the Central Elections Committee, which is in charge of organizing the actual elections procedurally and tallying the final votes. The committee is also authorized to reject a nominee or a list based on three clauses: if they reject Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, if they support another country’s armed battle against Israel and/or supports a terror organization, or if they incite racism. Israel is ranked first in the Middle East in the Perception of Electoral Integrity and 38 in the global rank (scoring especially high for electoral procedures).

Due to its significant weight in the electoral process, the committee is chaired by a Supreme Court judge and is assembled according to a proportional system. This allows each faction in the Knesset to be represented. In addition, the formation of the group is meant to balance the political aspect of the committee with a judicial one to ensure proper conduct. In order to disqualify a nominee, the committee must receive authorization from the Supreme Court. In the 2015 elections the committee disqualified the nomination of parliament member Hanin Zohaby (Balad), and the extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel (Yachad), claiming that they were in breach of articles 2 and 3 respectively of the Knesset Basic Law. However, both decisions were reversed by the Supreme Court. Out of 12 disqualifications made by the central committee, the Supreme Court only upheld three: the socialist list (1964), kah (1988, 1992) and Kahana (1988). Last year, a bill was introduced in the Knesset, which would prevent the Supreme Court from upholding decisions made by the Central Elections Committee regarding which candidates may or may not run in an election. It has yet to be approved or rejected.

Another notable mark is the suspension law, which was enacted in 2016. The law allows for the suspension of a Knesset member, if a supermajority of the Knesset vote that the individual has deviated from the behavior expected of a member of the Knesset. The law drew much criticism, mostly from opposition members, but also from some members of the coalition. Most of the criticism revolved around the claim that the Knesset lacks the authority to suspend a member and that this authority should be given to the court. In addition, some raised concerns that the vote to suspend a member will be mostly influenced by political considerations and “will severely weaken Israel’s democratic character.” However, the law has never used against any member of the Knesset.

Citations:
Azolai, Moran. “The Suspension Law was approved in the Knesset,” 29.03.16, Ynet (Hebrew): http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4784299,00.html

“Basic Laws: ‘The Knesset’” Knesset official website: www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/ eng-mimshal_yesod1.htm (English)

Fuchs, Amir. “MK Suspension Bill: Anti-Democratic to the Core,” 06.06.2016
https://en.idi.org.il/articles/2357

Hezki, Baruch. “Bill to bar Supreme Court from deciding who can run for Knesset,” 26.10.17, Arutz Sheva: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237241

Hobal, Ravital, “The majority of the judges rejected the petition regarding the election threshold,” 14.1.15, Haaraz (Hebrew): http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/elections/.premium-1.2538960

Htoka, Shusi. “Rivlin: the Suspension Law – an example of problematic understanding of the democracy,” 15.02.16: http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q1_2016/Article-5450e808bd5e251004.htm


Norris, P., Wynter, T and Cameron, S,. (2018). “Corruption and Coercion: The Year in Elections 2017,” The Electoral Integrity Project, https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/the-year-in-elections-2017


Shamir, Michal and Margal, Keren, “Notions on threat and disqualification of lists and nominees for the Knesset: from Yardur to the 2003 election, Mishpat & Mimshal 8, tashsa, pp. 119-154 (Hebrew).

“Summary of laws relating to the general elections,” from the Knesset official website (Hebrew)

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
7
One of the foundation stones of Israeli democracy is its free press and media. As part of this foundation, laws have been passed to ensure equal media access for all candidates and parties. Moreover, the criteria for allocating air time during election campaigns is impartial: it is not subjected to any kind of arbitrary considerations or determined by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee. More specifically, under the Election Law (Propaganda Means), it is stated that the chairman of the Central Elections Committee determines the radio broadcasting time provided to each list of candidates (currently, each list is entitled to 25 minutes, plus another six minutes for every member of the departing Knesset), whereas all propaganda broadcasts must be at the parties own expense and must be approved in advance by the Chairman of the Central Elections Committee. Recently, an amendment to the elections law has been introduced, proposing to cancel the 60-day prohibition on broadcasting propaganda before election day and requiring transparency on propaganda for four years prior to elections. Other recommendations are currently being debated in the Knesset.

While election broadcasting rights are fair and balanced, equal media access on a routine basis is challenged from several angles. Most notable is the fact that minorities often remain underrepresented. For example, Israeli-Arab interviewees are underrepresented in Hebrew broadcast media. According to the Representation Index – a collaboration between the Sikkuy Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, the Seventh Eye media watchdog journal and the Ifat media research institute – more Israeli Arabs appeared on Israeli television talk shows and on radio in 2017 than ever before, but were still significantly underrepresented. According to the index, only 3.5% of popular shows included an Israeli Arab participant.

Seventh Eye media watchdog journal pointed out last year that in many cases the media conducted surveys for Jewish citizens only. While those surveys sometimes presented as representing the Israeli public opinion, the fact that they exclude Arab citizens is usually not mentioned. The Arab population’s exclusion from public opinion polls was said by some members of the Israel Press Council to reflect a wider phenomenon regarding the media coverage of the Arab population in Israel. Consequently, the Israel Press Council, voluntary body of publishers, editors, journalists and public representatives amended Article 14 in its ethical code to prohibit exclusion and discrimination of different populations in 2017. Following this amendment, the Israel Press Council can address complaints regarding violation of the article in front of its ethical courts and the latter have the authority impose various punishments on journalist or publications.

Citations:
Hattis Rolef, Susan, Ben Meir, Liat and Zwebner, Sarah, “Party financing and election financing in Israel,” Knesset Research Institute, 21.7.2003 (Hebrew).


Persiko, Oren. “A Step Towards Dealing with the Media’s Attitude Toward Marginalized Populations ” (Hebrew), 18.02.2016, the7eye: https://www.the7eye.org.il/193765

Persiko, Oren. “About Bullying and Discrimination” (Hebrew), 30.08.2017, the7eye: https://www.the7eye.org.il/219708

Persiko, Oren. “And not Discriminate or Exclude” (Hebrew), 25.09.2016, the7eye: https://www.the7eye.org.il/262354

Persiko, Oreb, “Advanding the representation of arabs in the pupulae media in Hebrew.” 04.2017. Sikui and the Seventh Eye. http://www.sikkuy.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%A8-%D7%93%D7%95-%D7%9C%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%A2%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%AA-%D7%9C%D7%90%D7%AA%D7%A8.pdf


Shwartz-Altshuler and Lurie, Guy, “Redesign the Israeli Election Propaganda Arrangements“, Israel democracy institute website 6.4.2015:
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/redesigning_propaganda_regulations/ (Hebrew)


Stern, Itay. “Israeli Arab Representation on TV Talk Shows Shot Up in 2016”(Hebrew), 02.02.2017, Haaretz: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.769065”

Zarchia, Z. “The Constitution Committee has approved to introduce a bill suggesting to cancel the prohibit on election propaganda two months before elections” 11.07.18, Calcalist: https://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3742130,00.html

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
9
According to the Israeli Basic Law, “the Knesset” (1958), every Israeli citizen above 18 is eligible to vote in general elections. This right is guaranteed under the principle of equality. Thus, it is only restrained by the need to exhibit valid government identifications with the voter’s name and picture. If the voter refused to take an ID photo (as in the case of some religious women), the ID will be considered valid if it received authorization from the Ministry of the Interior. Article 10 of the Basic Law states that the day of the national elections is a national holiday, with public transportation and public services open, thus giving voters a positive (or, at least, not a negative) incentive to vote. Recently, a bill was presented suggesting that voters should be able to vote in a location that is different to the one in which they are registered, easing the voting process for citizens.

Up until 1988, the issue of prisoners’ right to vote was not much debated. However, after a number of petitions were submitted to the Supreme Court (“Bagatz”) the Knesset revised the law to state that a voting box must be stationed in every prison. Handicapped citizens are also entitled to special voting stations that are adequately equipped, thus simplifying their voting process by using double envelopes. The state is obligated to offer at least one such station in every city council, and at least two in a city council with more than 20 regular voting stations. During the voting process, if the voter struggles with the voting procedure for any reason (such as ill health) he or she has the right to ask for assistance by an escort. Much like the case of handicapped people, soldiers in active duty are entitled to vote in special voting stations using a double envelope. Although the mentally ill are usually unable to access voting stations (due to hospitalization or personal constraints), they are not restrained by any specific law.

In contrast to some countries, Israel does not allow citizens that are out of the country (the territories excluded) at the time of the elections to vote unless they are members of a distinct status, eligible by law (e.g., embassy employees stationed abroad). However, every citizen has the right to vote without a minimum period of residency in the country.

Information regarding the voting procedure is available via special government funded information centers, and be accessed through the media, online and by telephone. Problems and complaints are dealt through the Central Elections Committee, each branch assigned with different level complaints.

Citations:
Bander, Arik, “The Election Committee Suggests: Voters Could Vote in A Different Address Than Registered,” Maariv Online, 22.6.2016, http://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-546545



“Basic Laws: The Knesset,” Knesset official website: www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/ eng-mimshal_yesod1.htm

The 19th election for the Knesset: Information for the voter Q&A,” National election supervisor website (Hebrew)
“Who is allowed to vote?,” Israel Democracy Institute website, November 2002 (Hebrew)


Central Election Committee: Elections for the 21. Knesset, 9. April 2019: https://bechirot21.bechirot.gov.il/election/Pages/HomePage.aspx (Hebrew)

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
8
Israel has strict rules concerning party financing and electoral campaigns. The most important are the Parties Law (1992) and the Party Financing Law (1992). The two require all parties to document their finances and report them to the State Comptroller. These laws also stipulate the means by which parties can receive income. These two laws state that: party membership dues and fund raising from members remain within the limits allowed by the Party Financing Law; and party income can only come from five sources. These sources are: party membership dues and fund raising appeals among members, within limits allowed by the Parties Financing Law; funds received from the state in accordance with the Political Parties (financing) Law; non-public contributions received in accordance with the Political Parties (financing) Law; funds received for the purpose of elections in the New Histadrut trade union association, as approved by the New Histadrut; and funds obtained from party activities, directly or by means of party associations, involving the management of party property and funds under Article 21 of the law.

Furthermore, in order to ensure adherence to these two laws regulating party financing, all financial activities during elections are subjected to the supervision of the State Comptroller, who has on several occasions issued instructions that have the status of subsidiary legislation. The State Comptroller publishes regular reports regarding party finances, and is in charge of ruling whether there has been a breach of the law regarding party financing and election financing. Moreover, it is the State Comptroller who can also rule that a party group must return funds to the state because of divergences in the receipt of non-public contributions.

In a recent report published by the State Comptroller regarding 2017, the State Comptroller revealed that several parties had been fined due to violations of the party financing law, including a ILS 60,000 fine for the “Balad” party, ILS 50,000 fine for the “HaBayit Hayehudi” party and ILS 180,000 fine for the Likud party – all for violating party financing laws. To date, the party that has the highest budget is Likud, reflecting its position within the Knesset.

In 2018, an amendment to the party financing law was passed, limiting the funding that joint parties receive from the state budget. According to the law, joint lists of three or four parties would be given the funding of only two parties. As the only faction with more than two parties is the Joint Arab party, it was argued that the law was directly intended to break up the Joint Arab party. A year before, another amendment of the party financing law, known as the V15 bill, aimed at limiting the activities of various non-party-political bodies that seek to influence the outcome of elections in Israel. It requires these bodies to report their funding sources to the State Comptroller. The amendment was named “V15 bill” after V15, an organization that was funded by organizations from the United States and Europe, and which funded efforts during the 2015 election campaign against the Likud Party and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Citations:
Amendment to the Party Financing Law, 2018: https://fs.knesset.gov.il//20/law/20_ls2_501466.pdf
Hattis Rolef, Susan, Ben Meir, Liat and Zwebner, Sarah, “Party financing and elections financing in Israel, Knesset Research Institute, 21.7.2003 (Hebrew).


Klein, Z. “The State Comptroller: A fine to The Likus and the Bayit Yehudi,” Israel Hayom: 15.10.18: https://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/599301

“Knesset passes controversial ‘transparency’ law on NGO funding,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, 12.07.2016
: http://www.jta.org/2016/07/12/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/knesset-passes-controversial-transparency-law-on-ngo-funding


Levinson, H. and Lis, Y. “Netanyahu: the NGO Legislation is too weak, We Shall forbid Foreign Funding of Organizations, Haaretz, 11/6/17, https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/1.4161298

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
2
Israel’s government and parliament have traditionally given little support to popular decision-making mechanisms. However, in March 2014 the Knesset approved Basic Law: Referendum. This law will apply in the event of an agreement or unilateral decision that involves withdrawal from certain geographical areas. The law has never been applied and the use of referenda is limited to this particular issue.

Attempts at encouraging popular decision-making mechanisms tend to take the form either of (1) open information projects or websites addressing national interest investigation committees, or (2) special legal provisions allowing citizens to appeal against decisions on certain issues (e.g., urban planning) or addressing parliament committees on issues that directly concern them. These sorts of initiatives, while important, align with a top-down strategy for civil participation instead of encouraging independent initiatives.

These initiatives, however, remained largely in early stages, and we were unable to find any meaningful ways through which Israeli citizens can affect the decision process directly (that is: without media pressure, persuasion via lobbying firms or appeal to the courts).

Citations:
Altshuler-Shwartz, Tehila, “Open government policy in Israel in the digital age,” Israel democracy institute, 2012. (Hebrew)

“Future recommendations,” sharing: committee for social and economical transformation website. (Hebrew)

Gefen, Haaron, “The effect of institutionalizing participatory democracy on the level of sharing by public organization employees,” Israel Democracy Institute, 2011 (Hebrew)

Karmon, Yoav “Re-inventing Israel’s Democracy,” Vaksman, Efrat and Blander, Dana, “Models for sharing,” Israel Democracy Institute website 2012 (Hebrew)

“Sharing on governmental issues,” Israeli government website (Hebrew)

Access to Information

#21

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
6
Israel’s media environment is considered lively and pluralistic. Israelis have wide access to free and largely uncensored internet and internet penetration rate marked a high 78.9% in 2017. Even though the country’s basic laws do not offer direct protection and censorship, agreements accord the military wide discretion over issues of national security, legal protections for the press are robust: The Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of expression is an essential component of human dignity and has continuously defended it, soundly assimilating this principle in the Israeli political culture.

According to the last Freedom House rating, the media in Israel is “Partly Free” (33 out of 100 points). According to the 2018 Reporters without Borders report, the Israeli media is free but constrained by military censorship, with Israel ranked 87 out of 179 countries. These poor evaluations are mainly because of the economic threat that the free newspaper Israel Hayom poses to the other newspapers, and its close ties with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Another reason was the decision of the prime minister to keep the Ministry of Communication under his authority, a decision that was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Israel in light of the investigations against him.

Furthermore, when examining the extent to which the media in Israel is independent, one should also notice the immense power for censorship that the law facilitates. Under a 1996 Censorship Agreement between the media and the military, the censor has the power – on the grounds of national security – to penalize, shut down or stop the printing of a newspaper, or to confiscate its printing machines. In practice, however, the censor’s role is quite limited, and journalists often evade restrictions by leaking a story to a foreign outlet and then republishing. Since the beginning of 2016, so-called military censorship policies have toughened regarding the supervision of content in newspapers, blogs and other social media channels. Some bloggers have claimed that they have been sent them a message ordering them to submit every text regarding security issues for approval. Another key factor for the current rating, is the “military censorship” journalists are subject to, with journalists often being accused of inciting violence, cooperating with terrorist organizations or otherwise posing a threat to Israel’s security.

Other recent affairs seem to call into question several important aspects of media independence. In 2018, the right-leaning Channel 20 won the rights to broadcast Knesset TV and a bill has been approved in the Knesset. Another example is the new “Facebook Law,” passed in July 2018, which is said to be more restrictive than equivalent laws in other countries. According to this new law, the Israeli authorities can, with a judge’s order, demand the removal of content that is defined as illegal, including terror, pornography and violence.

It is also important to mention that the Israel Broadcasting Authority (“Rashut Hashidor”) was shut down this year and replaced by a new body, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Taagid Hashdiur, IPBC). The decision to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation was intended to guarantee the independence of the new body, and followed years of political debate and delays. The former authority was said to be expensive and aging. However, there were several delays to the launch of the new authority. These delays were mostly perceived as attempts to limit the independence of the new body. Although Prime Minister Netanyahu worked to close the new corporation, the IPBC eventually started broadcasting on 15 May 2017. Ongoing criticism by politicians toward the corporation has been published, regarding the “waste” of public budget, specifically regarding preparations for the upcoming Eurovision 2019 event, planned to take place in Israel.

Citations:
Boker, Ran, “Ayub Kara: “There is no place for a public channel today,” Ynet, 17/10/17: https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5029715,00.html

Cashman, Greer F., Knesset Approves Amendment to Public Broadcasting Law, The Juerusalem Post, 5/8/2016: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Knesset-approves-amendment-to-Public-Broadcasting-Law-463308

Caspi, Dan, “Media and politics in Israel,” Van Leer and the Kibutz Hameuhad, 2007 (Hebrew).


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


“2018 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX,” Reporters without Borders,
https://rsf.org/en/israel

Grosman, Nurit, “Freedom of Press in Israel 2016: Overview” in Rafi Mann and Azi Lev-On (eds.), Annual Report: The Israeli Media in 2016 (54-76), New Media, Society and Politics Research Institute, Ariel University, 2016 (Hebrew): http://newsite.aunmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2016_P5.pdf

Goichman, Refaela, “The world is fighting terror and pornography: with whom does the Israeli Facebook law fight?,” The Marker, 15/7/18: https://www.themarker.com/technation/.premium-1.6270707

Harkov, Lahav, “Knesset Passes Law that Free Media Market,” The Jerusalem Post, 30/05/2017: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Knesset-passes-laws-that-free-media-market-494283

“Israeli Media Is Another Example of Crony Capitalism,” Haaretz 2.11.2015:
 http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.683677


“Israel Freedom of the Press Country Report 2016,” Freedom House website: 
https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2016/israel (English)

“Map of Media Ownership of the Israeli Media“, The seventh eye website 2.12.2014: http://www.the7eye.org.il/50534 (Hebrew)


Persiko, Oren. “Control Through Prevision,” The seventh eye website, 4.10.16 (Hebrew) http://www.the7eye.org.il/191753


Ravid, Barak. “Miri Regev: Why Set Up New Broadcasting Corporation if We Don’t Control It? read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.734527,” Haaretz, 31/07/2016: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.734527

Ravid, Barak and Chaim Levinson, “Netanyahu Appoints Ayoub Kara as Communications Minister,” Haaretz, 28/05/2017: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.792289

“The Knesset has approved: Channel 20 will broadcast news,” Mako, 20/2/18: https://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q1_2018/Article-75d5d63acc1b161004.htm

“The Minister of Communications attacking the Corporate heads. Watch,”Srugim, 29/7/18:
https://www.srugim.co.il/269213-269213
Tucker, Nati. “Found Guilty of Libel for Facebook Post About Netanyahu, Crowdfunding Campaign Helps Cover Journalist’s Costs,” Haaretz, 20/6/2017: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.796804

Tucker, Nati, “’Israel Hayom’ and marketing content cased a deteriorate in ranking of media freedom in Israel,” 27.04.16 (English): http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/.premium-1.2928144

Tucker, Nati and Teig, Amir, “Israel Broadcasting Authority to Be Shut Down and Replaced,” Haaretz, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-1.578372

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
6
The pluralistic makeup of Israeli society is reflected in the press landscape, which includes more than a dozen daily newspapers and a wide range of weeklies and news websites serving readers from various religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups. A similarly diverse selection of broadcast media is also available in Israel, including local radio stations that cater to the country’s regional communities as well as ultra-Orthodox, Russian-speaking, and Arabic-speaking populations.

Israeli policy toward media pluralism is taking a “multivalued approach,” in the sense that it views an open media field as a part of the democratic order, and thus values it not only for economic purposes but for normative ones as well. This view justifies utilizing special regulatory tools (as opposed to exclusive antitrust regulation) in order to prevent concentration of ownership and cross-ownership in the media sector. In this spirit, media regulation in Israel also oversees issues of content (specifically regarding issues of local production and censorship).

In practice, media regulation in Israel is largely structural, controlling ownership in media channels (radio, public and private television via cable or satellite). The regulators are charged with authorizing concessionaires, and enforcing regulation in matters of owners’ concentration, cross-ownership and foreign ownership. However, print media is not under the same restraints as the broadcast media and is dealt with through antitrust regulation or voluntary self-regulation. Most of the news websites in Israel are operated by print media companies. There are current attempts to expand the regulation to the digital sphere but no change has been legislated by parliament as of yet. According to Freedom House 2017 report, ownership concentration among private stations is still a growing concern.


Due to increasing public awareness about matters of government transparency in recent years, public interest concerning the ownership of media (e.g., TV, newspaper and news websites ownership) and the politicization of mainstream media has become more intense. Several reports exposed the ownership structure of the media market in Israel highlighting aspects of cross ownership, crony capitalism and centralization, and the influence this has on the coverage of topical political and economic issues.

A comprehensive map of media ownership – which tracks the identities of tycoons, corporations and other entities that hold key shares in Israel’s media companies and outlets – shows diversified ownership structures both in the electronic and print media markets. The public and regulated private media compensates for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by ensuring representation of a wide range of opinions. Recent years have brought trends of ideological and financial centralism along with governmental efforts to improve regulation and competition in the communication market. Israel’s diverse newspaper industry was joined in 2007 by “Israel Hayom,” a free daily newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, an American businessman who is openly aligned with the prime minister and the Likud Party. Israel Hayom quickly gained power, capturing 40% of the market, thus raising concerns due to its partisan coverage and its negative effect on competing commercial newspapers.

In November 2017, after almost 25 years on the air, Channel 2’s two broadcasters (Keshet and Reshet) split and began airing on separate channels (channels 12 and 13 respectively), while Channel 10 moved to channel 14. Since the split took effect last year, all three commercial stations (Keshet, Reshet and Channel 10) sustained losses of millions and sometimes tens of millions of shekels per month, which will amount to more than ILS 200 million over the year. Recently a planned merger between Channel 10 and Reshet was canceled.

Citations:
Agmon, Tamir and Tsadik, Ami, “Analyzing economic ramifications of centralization and cross ownerships in the Media,” Knesset Research and Information Center, 2.11.2011 (Hebrew)

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


Media Ownership Map, The Seventh Eye website: 
https://cdn.the7eye.org.il/uploads/2016/03/the-7th-eye-israel-media-ownership-map72018.pdf

Halon, E, “Reshet pulls out of slated merger with Channel Ten,” 15.10.2018, Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Reshet-pulls-out-of-slated-merger-with-Channel-Ten-569464


Tal, Yizhar and Ivry-Omer, Dina, “Regulation of electronic communications services in Israel: The need to establish a communications Authority,” Policy research 76 IDI, November 2009: 
http://en.idi.org.il/media/277043/pp_76.pdf (Hebrew)


Tucker, Nati, “Why did Shlom Ben Tzvi disappear?,” theMarker 3.10.2014:
 http://www.themarker.com/markerweek/1.2449472 (Hebrew). 


Zrahiya, Zvi, “Israel’s media is riddled with alien interests,” 15.11.2011: 
http://www.haaretz.com/business/israel-s-media-is-riddled-with-alien-i nterests1.395639?localLinksEnabled =false


To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
8
Israel has a freedom of information law (1998) allowing each citizen or resident to apply for information regarding a government authority’s activity, whether written, filmed, recorded or digitized. This legal standing has been the basis of considerable activity by NGOs and private individuals. For instance, municipal authorities and government offices issue online reports detailing their progress in various areas. Naturally, the right to freedom of information is not absolute, with reasonable restrictions on the basis of national security or privacy issues.

However, an analysis issued by the Israel Democracy Institute in 2008 stated that the restrictions are within reason and do not prevent the law from achieving its main goal (i.e., creating a more transparent and accountable government). In addition, the right-to-privacy law (1998) grants individuals the right to access their personal information held in government or private-entity databases. The implementation of this law is enforced by the registrar of databases in the Ministry of Justice and petitioners can appeal to the courts if they find that government practice does not accord with the law.

In 2011, government decision No. 2950 established a designated unit for freedom of information in the Ministry of Justice. The unit is also n charged with implementing OECD guidelines for managing and sharing information. As part of its mandate, the unit publishes a yearly progress report. According to the unit, 6,659 applications were received in 2016, while 63% of applications received a reply within the legal 30-day period. According to the report, in 2016 the unit disclosed classified correspondence and documentation for the first time, following a request from the official investigation committee into the Yemen children affair.

In 2016, the government announced it was launching a program designed to open all governmental databases to the public. By May 2018, 1,085 databases have been mapped and uploaded by governmental offices, most of them open to the public. This step contributes to the ongoing policy of increasing transparency by expanding the authority of the Governmental Unit for Freedom of Information and financing projects undertaken by the unit.

Citations:
“About the unit for freedom of information,” The Ministry of Justice website:
http://index.justice.gov.il/Units/YechidatChofeshHameyda/About/Pages/OdotHayechida.aspx (Hebrew)


“Annual Report of the unit for freedom of information: 2016,” The Ministry of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov.il/Units/YechidatChofeshHameyda/PeilotHayehida/DohotHayhida/ReportYears/Pages/report2016.aspx

“Freedom of Information Law,” 1998: http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/Israel–FOIL1998.pdf


“Protection of privacy law,” 1981: http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/C5205E15-3FE9-4037-BA0F-62212B40773A/18334/ProtectionofPrivacyLaw57411981unofficialtranslatio.pdf


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




“The movement for freedom of information”: http://www.meida.org.il/


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

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#38

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
5
By law, the effort to safeguard civil rights is constituted in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which protects the right of each citizen to privacy, property, dignity, life and so forth. This basic law is meant to carry the spirit of the law and is procedurally protected from nullification. That being said, provisions from the law can be overruled under specific urgencies stated by the government and the courts. Much of the work of protecting civil rights in Israel is done through acts of judicial review, which operates independently from the legislator and the executive branches. Civil rights claims are voiced through media pressure, NGO activities, appeals to the Supreme Court, legislative amendments and appeals to government bodies that investigate public complaints.

Nevertheless, there is a gap between the formal guarantees of equal civil rights and the reality of unequal opportunities (experienced mainly by the Arab minority) primarily due to the conflict between civil rights and other core social values (e.g., religious identity, security and communal rights). According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), some legislative activity in 2018 threatened civil rights, including Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, restrictions on entry into Israel for those calling for a boycott on Israel, bills proposing stricter penalties for contempt of the flag and a bill to limit the funding of cultural bodies based on their political agenda. The passage of Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People has led to protests among Jew, Druze and Arab communities, since it did not include any statement declaring equality for all Israeli citizens. The main arguments were that the law discriminates against minorities and especially the Arab minority, since it downgraded the Arab language from its former position as an official state language.

ACRI’s annual report of 2017 illustrated a complex picture of safeguarding and violating human rights. Specifically, the report argued that the government has neglected asylum-seekers by failing to formulate a policy to address multiple immigration challenges. On the other hand, the “fair procedure” reform, intended to improve the rights of suspects in criminal law, led by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, was announced in May 2018.

Citations:
“Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty”:
 http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/spec ial/eng/basic3_eng.htm


Dahan, Tal, “Situation report: The state of human rights in Israel and the OPT 2017,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), https://campaigns.acri.org.il/report2017en/

Hermann, Tamar et.al., The Israel Democracy Index 2018, The Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem 2018, https://en.idi.org.il/media/12170/the-israeli-democracy-index-2018.pdf

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

Morag, G. and Friedson Y. “Shaked unveils criminal justice system reform bill,” Ynet, 28/05/2018: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5273104,00.html

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
5
Israel’s lack of a constitution means that the guarantee of political rights is confided to status of basic laws. Thus, they are not constitutional as such. For these and other reasons, the responsibility to protect political liberties still lies with Israeli parliament. However, parliamentary activity has not been conducive to this task. Several pieces of proposed legislation appear to undermine aspects of democracy and due process.

In addition, the Transparency Requirements for Parties Supported by Foreign State Entities Bill, which requires NGOs that receive more than half of their income from foreign governments to report annually to the registrar of non-profit associations in the Ministry of Justice. The bill was criticized as applying almost exclusively to human rights and left-wing organizations. As the Ministry of Justice reported, there are only 27 organizations in Israel that get more than half their funding from foreign governments. Of these, 25 are human rights organizations identified with the left.

Other problematic legislation include: the Entry to Israel Bill, prohibiting persons who support a boycott against the State of Israel from entering Israel, which has been passed by the Knesset; an amendment to the law on Contempt of the Flag, proposing significantly stricter penalties on those who damage the flag of Israel, which has been passed by the Knesset; and an amendment to the State Education Bill, preventing the activities of organizations that oppose educational values and the IDF, which is currently awaiting approval by the Knesset. However, many problematic proposals did not win parliamentary passage or were eventually softened in part due to public opposition.

A recent example of the consequences of these bills is the Entry to Israel. In September 2018, authorities denied Lara Alqasem entrance into Israel, because she was accused of being a BDS supporter. Eventually, after pressure from the Hebrew University at which Alqasem had intended to study in, the high court struck down the state’s decision.

Citations:
Ben Shitrit, Lihi, “Israel’s Shrinking Democracy.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 10.03.2016: 
http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/63006

Cohen, Hanan. “The Nakba Law,” IDI, 24.05.2014: https://www.idi.org.il/articles/4640

Dahan, Tal, “Situation report: The state of human rights in Israel and the OPT 2016,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, http://www.acri.org.il/campaigns/report2016en/

“Freedom in the world 2017,” Freedomhouse website:
 https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2017 


“Escalation in Israeli Minister’s Culture War,” Haaretz, 8/9/2017: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/1.811237

“Israel minister pursues tougher anti-BDS law,” Memo Middle Rast Monitor, 2/11/2017: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171102-israel-minister-pursues-tougher-anti-bds-law/

Knesset Press Release “Knesset passes NGO transparency law,” 12.07.2016, http://main.knesset.gov.il/News/PressReleases/pages/press120716.aspx (Hebrew)


Lis, Jonathan, Yair Ashkenazi, Jack Khoury and Sharon Pulwer, “Israel’s Nationalistic ‘Loyalty in Culture’ Bill Passes Legal Test,” Haaretz, 25/2/2016: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.705312

“Project Democracy: The Arab minority,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (October 2010).
 http://democracy-project.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/democracy-minorities.pdf


Steinber, Jessica, Miri Regev’s cultural war heats, The Times of Israel, 29/1/2016: https://www.timesofisrael.com/miri-regevs-cultural-war-heats-up/

Yishai, Yael, “Civil Society in Israel,” Carmel, Jerusalem, 2003.

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
Israel’s main venue for dealing with cases of discrimination is the court system, particularly the Supreme Court, which address cases of discrimination against women and minorities in professional, public and state spheres. The country has a long-standing institutional mechanisms intended to promote equality, such as the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in the Ministry of the Economy. However, these tend to offer ad hoc solutions instead of comprehensive and long term plans. Attempts to pass a basic law protecting equality to join existing legislation protecting human dignity and liberty did not yield results. Instead, the struggle against discrimination is usually fought through Israel’s media and by vigorous NGO activity.

Progress was achieved in recent years regarding women’s and gay rights. The government addressed the expanding industry of human trafficking and prostitution by opening designated shelters for victims and legislating (2006) prison terms of up to 20 years for perpetrators. The gay community also marked prominent victories: non-biological same-sex parents have been made eligible for guardianship rights and same-sex marriages conducted in foreign countries are recognized by the state, with the first gay divorce granted in 2012. However, in 2018 the Surrogate Law was passed, which expands eligibility for state-supported surrogacy to include single women but excludes single men and gay couples from funded surrogacy services (see also G6.2a section).

Nonetheless, discrimination is prevalent and systematic regarding Palestinians’ rights. Following Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Arab residents were issued Israeli identity cards and given the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship, though most choose not to seek citizenship for political reasons. These non-citizens have many of the same rights as Israeli citizens, except the right to vote in national elections. They can vote in municipal as well as Palestinian Authority elections, and remain eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship. However, Israeli law strips non-citizens of their local residency if they stay outside the city for more than three months. Regarding the Arab society, a 2016 annual report of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel argued that there is an “institutionalized and long-standing neglect and discrimination against the Arab population in the areas of land allocation, planning, and housing.”

A 2003 law denies citizenship and residency status to Palestinian residents of the West Bank or Gaza who marry Israeli citizens. This measure affects about 15,000 couples and has been criticized as blatantly discriminatory. In 2011, the Knesset passed a law allowing the courts to revoke the citizenship of any Israeli convicted of spying, treason or aiding the enemy. A number of civil rights groups and the Shin Bet security service criticized the legislation as unnecessary and overly burdensome.

In the labor market, there is still discrimination against women. Women continue to earn less than men (on average, women earn 85% less than men per hour). Furthermore, there are less women, Arabs and people with low incomes studying and working in the high-tech and science sectors. This is widely attributed to inequalities in the educational system in Israel.

However, there have been some advances in the field of discrimination. For example, regarding protecting the rights of disabled persons, Israel is introduced substantial measures. The Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities has stated that the gap between the general employed population and the disabled employed population is constantly closing, and the rate of disabled employment is rising (a rise of 23% in 2017).The commission’s work is based on the Equal Rights Law for Persons with Disabilities (1998) that sets a goal for Israel to “protect the dignity and liberty of persons with disabilities and anchor their right to equal and active participation in society in all fields of life, as well as properly provide for their special needs in a manner enabling them to spend their lives in maximum independence, privacy and dignity, while making the most of their capabilities.” In addition, the Ministry for Social Equality, launched in 2015, is dedicated to reducing discrimination against and advancing equality for minorities, women, and older and younger citizens.

Citations:
Association for Civil Rights in Israel, http://www.acri.org.il/campaigns/report2016en/

Gild-Hayo, Debbie, Overview of Anti-Democratic Legislation Advanced by the 20th Knesset, October 2018: https://law.acri.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Overview-of-Anti-Democratic-Legislation-October-2018.pdf

Mako editiorial “The Surrogacy Storm: General Strike and Rage March of the LGTB Community,” 18/7/18, MAKO: https://www.mako.co.il/pride-news/local/Article-530a21c9e6da461006.htm

Sober, Tali Heruty “A rise of 23% in the employment of disabled,” The Marker, 29/11/17: https://www.themarker.com/career/1.4647745

Swirsky, S., E. Konor-Atias, “Social status report 2017,” January 2018. (Hebrew)
http://adva.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Social-Report-2017.pdf

Tzameret-Kertcher, Hagar et al. “The Gender Index, Gender Inequality in Israel 2017,” The Van-Leer Jerusalem Institute, https://genderindex.vanleer.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/%D7%93%D7%95%D7%97-%D7%9E%D7%93%D7%93-%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%92%D7%93%D7%A8-2017.pdf

Zohar, Gal, “Equal participation – comparative view- Israel and the World,” Report to the Ministry of Justice, 2016
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wFtosSXqLwAJ:www.justice.gov.il/Units/NetzivutShivyon/SiteDocs/Disabilities-Affirmative-Action-Report.docx+&cd=2&hl=iw&ct=clnk&gl=il

Rule of Law

#23

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
6
Several institutions were established in Israel in order to review the activities of government and public administration. The State Comptroller, the Attorney General of Israel and the Supreme Court (ruling as the High Court of Justice) conduct legal reviews of the actions of the government and administration. The Attorney General represents the state in courts. The officeholder participates regularly in government meetings, and in charge of protecting the rule of law in the public’s interest. His or her legal opinion is critical, and even mandatory in some cases. The Supreme Court hears appeals from citizens and Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (even though Israeli law is not officially applied in the latter). These petitions, as filed by individuals or civic organizations, constitute an important instrument by which to force the state to explain and justify its actions.

The judiciary in Israel is independent and regularly rules against the government. For example, in September 2018, the High Court struck down the state’s decision to refuse Lara Alqasem, a BDS supporter, entrance into Israel. However, regarding the dismissal of laws, Israel ranks relatively low compared to other countries.

Some legal arrangements provide for ad hoc state action to deal with security threats. The Emergency Powers (Detention) Law of 1979 provides for indefinite administrative detention without trial. According to a human rights group, at the end of August 2018, there were 465 Palestinians incarcerated under such charges. A temporary order in effect since 2006 permits the detention of suspects accused of security offenses for 96 hours without judicial oversight, compared with 24 hours for other detainees. Israel outlawed the use of torture to extract security information in 2000, but milder forms of coercion are permissible when the prisoner is believed to have vital information about impending terrorist attacks.

Citations:
“Administrative detention,” B’tselem http://www.btselem.org/administrative_detention/statistics

Barzilay, Gad and David Nachmias,” The Attorney General to the government: Authority and responsibility,” IDI website September 1997 (Hebrew)


Bob, Y. J. “Court orders Government to pass new law or draft all Haredim,” JPost, 12/9/17, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Court-orders-govt-to-pass-new-law-or-draft-all-haredim-504901

“Knesset opens Winter Assembly; Speaker Edelstein: ”Parliament`s status eroded due to lack of separation of powers,” The Knesset Website, 23/10/2017: https://www.knesset.gov.il/spokesman/eng/PR_eng.asp?PRID=13599

Luria, G “How many Laws are dismissed in the world?” IDI, 22.4.18: https://www.idi.org.il/articles/23326

Weitz, Gidi. “In Israel, No Gatekeepers to Stop Netanyahu’s War on Media,” Haaretz, 02/04/2017: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780680

Transparency International, “Israel releases first ever National Integrity System report on Israel’s government, institutions,” 11.11.2014: https://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/tlisrael_releases_first_ever_national_integrity_system_report_on_israels_go

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
8
The Supreme Court is generally viewed as a highly influential institution. It has repeatedly intervened in the political domain to review the legality of political agreements, decisions and allocations. Since a large part of the Supreme Court’s judicial review in recent years is over the activities of a rightist coalition and parliament, it is often criticized for being biased toward the political left. During 2013 – 2014, the Supreme Court was similarly criticized for overturning an “infiltration law” set up to implement policy regarding illegal immigration. Nevertheless, it is ranked as one of the top four trustworthy governmental institutions in a 2016 survey conducted by the Israeli Democracy Institute.

The independence of the judiciary system is established in the basic law on the judiciary (1984), various individual laws, the ethical guidelines for judges (2007), numerous Supreme Court rulings, and in the Israeli legal tradition more broadly. These instruct governing judicial activity by requiring judgments to be made without prejudice, ensuring that judges receive full immunity, generally banning judges from serving in supplementary public or private positions, and more. Judges are regarded as public trustees, with an independent and impartial judicial authority considered as a critical part of the democratic order.

Despite that, the current minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked, has presented several basic law amendments that undermine the judicial branch. Her recent attempts to advance a legal prescription, which allows the Knesset to override high court rulings, will weaken Israel’s judicial review system.

Citations:
Azulai, Moran and Ephraim, Omri, “Overruling the infiltration law: The Knesset goes into battle,” Ynet 23.9.2014:
http://ynet.co.il.d4p.net/articles/0,7340,L-4574094,00.html (Hebrew).


Bob, Yonah Jeremy “Ayelet Shaked To ‘Post’: High Court More Conservative Than Four Years Ago,” 28/10/18, JPOST, https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Ayelet-Shaked-High-court-more-conservative-than-four-years-ago-570354

Herman, Tamar, “Israeli Democracy index 2016,” The Israel Democracy Institute. (Hebrew)
 https://www.idi.org.il/media/7799/democracy-index-2016.pdf

Hovel, Revital, “Right-wing Israeli Ministers Introduce Plan Targeting High Court’s Powers,” Haaretz, 15/9/2017, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.812425.

Kremnitzer, Mordechai, “Judicial Responsibility at its Best,” IDI website 31.5.2012 (Hebrew).


Svorai, Moran, “Judicial independence as a main feature in judicial ethics” (2010) (Hebrew)
, http://www.mishpat.ac.il/files/650/3168/3185/3186.pdf


To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
8
According to Israel’s basic laws, all judges are to be appointed by the president after having been elected by a special committee. This committee consists of nine members, including the president of the Supreme Court, two other Supreme Court judges, the minister of justice (who also serves as the chairman) and another government-designated minister, two Knesset members, and two representatives of the Chamber of Advocates that have been elected by the National Council of the Chamber.

The cooperative procedure balances various interests and institutions within the government in order to ensure pluralism and protect the legitimacy of appointments. The process receives considerable media coverage and is subject to public criticism, which is usually concerned with whether justices’ professional record or other considerations (e.g., social views, loyalties and political affiliation) should figure into their appointment.

The spirit of judicial independence is also evident in the procedure for nominating judges and in the establishment of the Ombudsman on the Israeli judiciary. This latter was created in 2003, with the aim of addressing issues of accountability inside the judicial system. It is an independent institution that investigates public complaints or special requests for review from the president of the Supreme Court or the secretary of justice. The Ombudsman issues an annual report detailing its work, investigations and findings from all judicial levels, including the rabbinic courts.

However, in 2018, the relative power of the justice minister in selecting judges was stronger than ever. In 2016, the Ministry of Justice approved the participation of a representative lawyer from the Bar Association in the process of nominating judges. Recently, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced that – having appointed 40% of the serving justices – she had succeeded in making the courts more conservative.

Citations:
Four Years Ago,” 28/10/18, JPOST, https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Ayelet-Shaked-High-court-more-conservative-than-four-years-ago-570354

Gueta, Yasmin and Efrat Newman, “Like the ‘Big Brother’: The Procedure to Judge Nomination,” The Marker, 15.2.2016: http://www.themarker.com/law/1.2851297



Hovel, Revital. “Minister, Chief Justice Agree on Israel’s Next Supreme Court President,” Haaretz, 10/7/2017: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.800449

Rubinstein, Amnon, “The constitutional law of the state of Israel,” Shoken, 2005.

Shoken, 2005.
“The Ombudsman on judges office: Annual report 2011,” 2012. (Hebrew), 
http://index.justice.gov.il/Units/NezivutShoftim/pirsomeyhanaziv/Doch/Documents/2012.pdf


“The Ombudsman of judges office: Annual report 2013,” Jerusalem 2014 (Hebrew), 
http://index.justice.gov.il/Units/NezivutShoftim/MainDocs/Report2013.pdf.


To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
6
A survey of the Israeli legal framework identifies three primary channels of a corruption-prevention strategy: 1) maintaining popular trust in public management (including bank managers and large public-oriented corporations’’ owners), 2) ensuring the proper conduct of public servants and 3) ensuring accountability within the civil service. Israel pursues these goals by various means: It established a legal and ethical framework to guide civil servants and the courts, reinforced the position of the State Comptroller through the passage of a basic law (1988) in order insure government accountability, adapted the civil service commission’s authority to manage human resources (e.g., appointments, salaries) and so forth. In 2005, Israel was one of 140 states to sign a national anti-corruption treaty and began implementing it in 2009, issuing annual progress reports.

Annual opinion surveys demonstrate that Israeli citizens are concerned about high levels of corruption in their country. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, out of 180 countries, Israel ranked 32 in 2017 and 34 in 2018. Criticism of Israel’s centralized public-service structure have been mounting, in part because it is characterized by some very powerful ministries with broad discretionary spending powers. These powers undermine accountability, leaving room for corruption.

Criminal inquiries into politicians are common. In 2014, the courts issued an historic ruling, sentencing former prime minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for accepting bribes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem. Current Prime Minister Netanyahu has been going through a series of investigations regarding several corruption cases. Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman was on trial for fraud, money laundering and breach of trust. Former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov, of the Yisrael Beytenu party, was sentenced to a 15-month sentence for fraud and breach of trust. In addition, former deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum and nine other officials linked to Yisrael Beytenu were indicted for a litany of corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and money laundering.

Citations:
Aliasuf, Itzak, “Ethics of public servants in Israel,” 1991 (Hebrew)
http://mishkenot.org.il/Hebrew/docs/ethics/%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9E%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D-D7%90%D7%A8%D7%92%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9D%20%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D/%D7%90%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%A7%D7%94%20%D7%A9%D7%9C%20%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%91%D7%93%D7%99%20%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%20%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C.pdf


Ariel, Omri, New poll shows 72% view Israel as a corrupt country, 08.01.2016,
 http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/in-israel/local/poll-72-see-israel-as-corrupt-18361





Times of Israel, “Israel’s top legal officials warn PM’s allies seek to undermine the rule of law,” 5.1.2019: https://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-top-legal-officials-warn-pms-allies-seek-to-undermine-the-rule-of-law/

Brayner, Joshua, Hovel, Revital, and Landau Noa, “Police recommends prosecuting Netanyahu for corruption in 1000 and 2000 cases,” 13/2/2018: https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/law/1.5802983

“Corruption investigation explores bribe attempts from Netanyahu,” The Jerusalem Post, 9/9/2016, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Corruption-investigation-explores-bribe-attempts-from-Netanyahu-467347


“85% of Israelis think corruption is widespread in business,” The Times of Israel, 12.5.2012.
 http://www.timesofisrael.com/85-of-israelis-think-corruption-widespread-in-business/


”Massive scope of Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal revealed,” Ynet 25.12.2014:
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4607728,00.html 


Ma’anit, Chen, Former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov signs plea bargain, Globes, 31/10/2017: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-former-tourism-minister-stas-misezhnikov-signs-plea-bargain-1001209817

Shahm, Udi “Former Netanyahu Aide to Provide Information in ‘Submarine Case,” Jpost, 3/8/2017 http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Former-Netanyahu-aide-to-provide-information-in-Submarine-Case-501476

Shahar Levi, Zohar, “The head of the Israel Police fraud investigations task force: We have number corruption affairs in line,” Calcalist 19.5.2015:
 http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3659694,00.html (Hebrew).

Transparency International: Corruption Perception Index 2017.
 https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017#table


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