Knesset MKs at plenum 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Israel will continue to be in a national state of emergency for at least three
months, as the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the
extension of that state on Tuesday.
All of the committee’s members,
except for Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, approved the motion.
state of emergency has been extant since the country was founded in 1948, and is
based on laws from the British Mandate for Palestine. It includes hundreds of
orders covering security issues as well as civil and economic ones.
task force consisting of members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense and Law,
Constitution and Justice committees is meant to reduce the number of such
orders, following a 1999 High Court decision on the matter.
the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee extended the state of emergency for
only three months instead of the usual six months or a year, because the Knesset
had not yet authorized the official membership of either committee – something
it would only do later in the day – and they therefore could not choose members
for the joint task force.
Shas MK Avraham Michaeli, who headed that joint
committee in the previous Knesset, said the task force had successfully
convinced the government to cancel two-thirds of the orders, reducing their
number from 158 to 60.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman
Avigdor Liberman said it was wrong for the committee to hold a serious
discussion of the matter before the formation of permanent Knesset
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) pointed out in the committee
meeting that it was important to ask, in a democratic country, whether a state
of emergency should continue. However, he said that as long as there could not
be a serious discussion on the matter, it was the committee’s responsibility to
acquiesce to the government’s request to extend the state of
“I feel uncomfortable extending the state of emergency at this
time,” Gal-On said. “We’re being treated like a rubber stamp [to authorize
government policies], and this does not add to the Knesset’s
The Meretz leader added that while many of the orders under the
national state of emergency, which she called “draconian,” had been cancelled,
all the security-related ones were still in place.
Later Tuesday, the
Knesset authorized the permanent membership of its committees.
Liberman and Rivlin, the members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
will include Likud Beytenu MKs Tzachi Hanegbi, Yariv Levin and Miri Regev; Yesh
Atid MKs Ofer Shelah and Ronen Hoffman; Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev; Shas MKs
Eli Yishai and Arye Deri; Hatnua MK Meir Sheetrit; Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz;
and Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz.
Labor and United Torah Judaism have yet to
decide which of their MKs will join the committee.