National state of emergency extended by 3 months

Number of emergency orders reduced by two-thirds in recent years; state of emergency has existed since 1948.

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April 9, 2013 20:29
2 minute read.
Knesset MKs at plenum, March 18, 2013.

Knesset MKs at plenum 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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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.

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The national 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.

A 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.

On Tuesday, 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 committees.



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 emergency.

“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 dignity.”

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.

Along with 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.

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