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Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Knesset extends 65-year-long national state of emergency
By LAHAV HARKOV
16/12/2013
Edelstein calls for government to reduce state of emergency's pervasiveness; MK Horowitz: Let's end the British Mandate.
 
The national state of emergency, which has existed since the establishment of the State of Israel, will continue for five more months, following a vote in the Knesset Monday.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called for ministries to work on laws to replace parts of the national state of emergency motion that are less related to emergencies, before it has to be renewed again in May.

Edelstein said he worked on a “road map” for the change with Shas leader Arye Deri and MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas).

The country has been in a national state of emergency, which is based on British Mandatory laws and includes hundreds of orders dealing with security, civil and economic matters, since its establishment in 1948.

Some of the national state of emergency’s articles help the defense establishment fight terror, arrest and detain suspects as well as supervise travel abroad. Another allows the government to seize land in an emergency. Others are less related to national emergencies, such as an article allowing the government to oversee ice cream production.

Michaeli described the state of emergency in the plenum, joking that he wouldn’t want “people to get scared thinking this has something to do with snow.”

Michaeli criticized the government for continually renewing the state of emergency, instead of passing laws in the Knesset dealing with the issues the state of emergency covers.

Still, Michaeli called for MKs to vote in favor of the state of emergency, because it’s the responsible thing to do, “we can’t shut down the country,” he quipped.

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) pointed out that “the last High Commissioner for Palestine Alan Cunningham left in May 1948, but his legacy remains.”

“Let’s end the British Mandate. Let’s end the foreign reign. We’re not in a state of emergency; we need to end this,” Horowitz said.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) said the discussion of the national state of emergency came at the perfect time, because “the government can’t decide what state we’re in.”

“For months, we heard arguments over whose responsibility it is [to deal with emergencies]. In the moment of truth, we don’t know how to help ourselves. We rush to help every country in the world... I’m waiting for the Philippines, Haiti, Turkey, to come help us. We’re in trouble! Why do we even have a Home Front Command?” Shai asked.
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