As the country’s leading parties spar over two-state solutions and who must
serve in the army, one issue that nearly all have declared crucial to the
state’s survival is environmental protection.
Whether written words
vowing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity will
translate into action in the next Knesset’s policies and legislation, however,
remains to be seen.
In anticipation of the election, the Society for the
Protection of Nature in Israel conducted a survey through via the Geo-cartography
firm gauging the importance of environmental issues to the public as they head
to the polls.
Of the approximately 500 people surveyed of all ages and
genders throughout Israel, 75 percent deemed environmental issues essential to
the quality of their lives and 71% felt that it was critical that Knesset
candidates have environmental agendas.
While 31% of those polled said
they did not know who should be the next environment ministry, 25% said they
believed current Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud Beytenu)
would be best for the job, with the next closest candidate being MK Nitzan
Horowitz (Meretz) – at 6.5%.
Looking particularly at the country’s water
sector, most of the parties supported increased treatment of wastewater for
various uses, particularly in agriculture.
In addition to the sewage
purification systems, Likud Beytenu advocated building more desalination plants
and continuing to restore the nation’s streams and rivers.
Party and Meretz called water a “fundamental human right,” while The Tzipi Livni
party extended that claim by calling for basic legislation deeming environmental
quality every person’s right.
The Labor Party said it would be
encouraging water conservation, leak prevention, runoff collection, reuse of
water and greywater usage, while Meretz advocated stricter supervision of
sewage, legislation for greywater and a decrease in power of the municipal water
In addition to touting most of the above, The Tzipi Livni
Party also called for higher taxes on excessive water use and expanded research
for water technologies.
Likewise promoting greywater use and increased
water technology research, Yesh Atid also called for new pipe infrastructure to
convey treated wastewater to agriculture and rivers. While promoting the revival
of previous flows in the entire country’s streams, Bayit Yehudi said it would
also specifically target polluted waters in Judea and Samaria, while building
rainwater collection reservoirs and a sewage treatment facility there.
the energy sector, one hot-button issue among the parties is the export of
natural gas. While Likud Beytenu did not provide an official position on this
issue in its platform, the Zemach Committee plan supported by the current
administration calls for exporting about 57% of the country’s natural gas
reserves, leaving 450 million cubic meters of gas for the domestic market,
enough to supply the country with gas for the next 25 years, according to
Yesh Atid vehemently opposed the committee’s
conclusions as well as the export of natural gas in general, charging that the
committee overestimated the reserves and that a new solid estimation process
“Yesh Atid recognizes that the natural gas is a one-time
gift from nature and a source of national security,” a statement from the party
said. “It is not infinite, it is not renewable and it is not fully mapped
Meretz opposed the export of any natural gas, while The Tzipi Livni
Party and Labor called for only a very minimal amount of export.
Bayit Yehudi did not specifically comment on the export issue, the party said
that it would advocate expanded usage of natural gas in transportation and in
homes as a means to ensure energy independence.
The major parties nearly
unanimously supported the advancement of renewable energy in the electricity
market, with most stressing a need to reduce fossil fuel emissions, increase
energy efficiency and encourage research of new technologies.
move up the government’s goals of 10% renewables by 2020, The Tzipi Livni Party
said that it hoped to achieve 10% by 2017 and 20% by 2020, and establish an
energy master plan for the next 50 years.
While Meretz maintained the 10%
by 2020 goal, the party set a slower goal of 20% by 2030 and demanded the
termination of the Shfela basin oil shale project.
Yesh Atid stressed a
need for decentralized medium-sized solar energy plants, while Labor promoted
the integration of electricity smart grids.
Likud Beytenu, Labor, The
Tzipi Livni Party, Yesh Atid and Meretz all advocated some form of a “polluter
pays” principle in the air pollution sector.
Meretz also called for the
deployment of more advanced air monitoring systems, while Yesh Atid suggested
growing more plants in urban centers, to naturally absorb more of the air
The Tzipi Livni Party committed to fully implementing the
National Air Pollution Prevention Plan within four years to meet targets of the
Clean Air Law, and Labor advocated a similar plan while also favoring criminal
charges against noncompliant polluters.
In the garbage sector, Likud
Beytenu called for the further treatment of solid waste and hazardous substances
and emphasized the success of the current administration initiating
“precedent-setting environmental legislation” on waste issues – the Packaging
Law, electronic waste legislation, recycling policies and asbestos
Stressing that Israel is still second in the world in per capita
garbage production, however, Yesh Atid warned that quantities of trash in
landfills must yet be reduced. The Tzipi Livni Party aimed to accelerate the
rate of recycling and reduce the concentration of hazardous materials in city
centers, while Meretz pushed for the prohibition of plastic bags from
supermarkets and better hazardous waste treatment.
In addition to
changing recycling from voluntary to mandatory, Labor called for the passage of
a Polluted Lands Rehabilitation Law as well as waste sorting facilities all over
Nearly all the major parties said that expanding the
public transportation system into a more efficient, user-friendly mode of travel
would be a top priority of their platforms.
The Tzipi Livni Party, Meretz
and Yesh Atid all specifically vowed to increase cycling paths throughout the
country through various initiatives, while Meretz also advocated the development
of metropolitan transit authorities and a National Road Safety Authority
independent from the Transportation Ministry.
Yesh Atid urged the
adoption of alternative fuels like biodiesel and bioethanol as well as
investments in new light rails and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. Bayit Yehudi
also called for progressive taxing on vehicles according to pollution
Increased animal rights were particular concerns of the Labor
Party, Yesh Atid and Meretz and The Tzipi Livni Party, with the latter demanding
the transfer of animal welfare authority from the Agriculture Ministry to the
Meretz and Yesh Atid also called for widespread
sterilization of street cats, increased shelters for animals and bans on
experimentation for cosmetics, while Meretz promoted a prohibition on hunting,
fur and chicken battery cages.
As far as the preservation of the
country’s nature and open spaces goes, most of the parties supported keeping
beaches accessible to the public, with Likud Beytenu placing emphasis as well on
protecting the coastal cliffs.
Likud Beytenu, Labor, Meretz, Bayit Yehudi
and Yesh Atid all specifically promoted increased rehabilitation and decreased
exploitation of the Dead Sea.
The Tzipi Livni Party ordered the
declaration of 100,000 hectares of land to become nature reserves, while both
this party and Bayit Yehudi also called for an amendment to the Coast Law that
prohibits beach building even in previously approved projects.
Beytenu hailed the Netanyahu administration’s successes in bringing an
“environmental outlook” to the forefront of the government, particularly noting
the passage of green growth policies and programs to curb greenhouse gas
“There has been no government that has acted for environmental
preservation as the current government has,” a statement from the party
Most of the other parties took a stab at Likud Beytenu, however,
with Labor, Meretz and The Tzipi Livni Party all slamming the administration for
continually “privatizing” public land and open spaces and pushing forward a
faulty planning and building reform that would delegitimize local
Bayit Yehudi agreed that privatization of such land should not
occur and that only government authorities should administer natural
“The Labor Party places a central emphasis on sustainability and
environment, which appears widely throughout the party platform,” said a
statement from the Labor Party for The Jerusalem Post.
Knesset will be active in advancing these major issues, which have been damaged
in part due to the privatization of land and natural resources in
“At the end of the day, in my opinion, looking the past is more
important than platforms,” Mossi Raz, of Meretz, told the Post.
the environmental platforms of Meretz, Yesh Atid, Labor and The Tzipi Livni
Party, Raz agreed that the platforms are, in fact, intrinsically
“I think the differences between us and them are not in the
environment issues,” he said.
Prof. Alon Tal, chairman of the Green
Movement and No. 13 on The Tzipi Livni Party list, told the Post that his
party’s environmentalism does, however, diverge from that of Meretz, Yesh Atid
“Each line in our platform is based in position papers that he
have from the Green Movement, from 40 professors and experts on these issues,”
Tal said. “And [The Tzipi Livni Party] is the only party that brings in someone
whose essential purpose in coming to the Knesset is promoting environmental
Lacking a comprehensive environmental platform, another major
party, Shas, called on its website for preserving nature and landscapes as a
crucial element of maintaining the land’s holiness, as well as limiting
industries and construction that harm or pollute nature. Shas did not respond to
requests from the Post for a more detailed version of its environmental