Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced late Monday night that the Ministerial Legislative Committee had approved a major change in policy, ending the recourse to arresting debtors.
The decision was taken in light of the belief that the state is not capable of properly distinguishing between debtors who are avoiding paying their debts and those who simply do not have the means.
Further, the change in policy was made to avoid pushing such debtors into cutting dangerous deals in the black market to pay back their legitimate debts, which could only worsen their situation.
Livni had argued that the benefit of enforcing payment of debts by arrest in some circumstances was far outweighed by the above costs.
The new procedures in place create several interim stages to better check whether a debtor cannot pay his debts or is just avoiding paying them, including waiting a longer period of time before pursuing more serious enforcement.
They also include warnings to the debtors – provided they owe more than NIS 2,500 – of more serious consequences and an information campaign designed to inform debtors of the consequences.
“Debts must be repaid, but not at any price,” Livni said.