Plastic bags [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
After the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee canceled a discussion on legislation to ban free plastic bags on Monday, its chairwoman, MK Miri Regev (Likud), denied that she was aiming to thwart the bill’s passage.
Just three weeks ago the Knesset plenary approved in its first reading a bill that would eliminate the distribution of free plastic bags at supermarkets.
Customers would be required to pay 30 agorot for the bags, a price that would gradually drop to 20 agorot after two years and then to 10 agorot after four years. All residents would be eligible to collect free reusable sacks instead, using coupons attached to their electric bills.
The Knesset panel was slated to hold a preparatory discussion on the Plastic Bags Bill on Monday ahead of the second and third readings. But the figure behind the legislation, MK Amir Peretz, resigned on Sunday as environmental protection minister, and numerous press reports have cited rumors that Regev was seeking to stymie the bill to avenge Peretz.
“Following rumors and statements on the Plastic Bags Bill, no one requested to move the discussion today – not the prime minister and not [Likud MK Ze’ev] Elkin,” Regev said.
“Last week, I sat alongside Minister Peretz and I understood the complexities of the bill, to which there are many objections. He promised to accompany the bill throughout its duration. As committee chairwoman, I undertook its transfer to January with the accompaniment of a minister because it is impossible that a minister not accompany such a bill.
I didn’t think it would be right for a clerk to accompany it,” she continued.
“Until January there is a lot of time, and I promised that from the moment there is an appointment [to replace Peretz at the Environmental Protection Ministry] we will advance it and rethink it,” she said. “The committee has not been and will not be a rubber stamp for any law.”
Peretz slammed Monday’s postponement.
“Whoever decided to postpone the discussion on the Plastic Bags Law hurts not me, but the environment,” he said. “The decision to harm the Plastic Bags Law is scandalous and ignores the importance of the law to the environment.”
After Monday’s discussion was shelved, MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said she would bring to a vote a private bill on the subject on Wednesday in cooperation with the environmental organizations Zalul and the Council for a Beautiful Israel. Her bill aims to substantially reduce the use of plastic bags based partly on the models proposed by European Union countries.
Roisin’s bill was submitted to the Knesset in February 2014.
“Shelving Peretz’s bill is more proof that we have a government that works solely out of political interests and forgets the good of the public and the environment,” she said.