Tzipi Livni at the President's residence 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday addressed a Knesset Freedom of
Information conference, saying “the prominent public interest moves the scale
overwhelmingly in favor of freedom of information,” in the balance between the
need for state secrecy and for public transparency regarding government
On the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Law on Freedom of
Information, Livni called it “an instrument for repairing. It is the right of
the public to know what is concealed behind the decisions of the offices of the
But Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein seemed to sound a
different note, saying “there is a need to distinguish and to anchor in law, a
substantive balance regarding the law” on freedom of information. He added that
mechanisms for balance would need “to guard freedom of information, but not in a
way that leads to a free-for-all on information.”
that requests for freedom of information seemed to lead to media reports focused
on expenses for international travel of public servants, while ignoring the
positive impacts of those trips. He concluded by saying that “half-truths are
worse than falsehoods.”
In contrast, Livni appeared to unapologetically
push for broader freedom of information, and said that “despite the opposition,
there will be transparency for the ministerial committee for legislative
affairs, and I am acting to make sure that this comes about.”
that she planned to lower the fees for submitting freedom-of-information requests
and considers the fees an obstacle for those wishing to make
“When they said to me that lowering the fees would bring many
more requests, I said that that was the point,” she said.
The event took
place only days after the Department for Freedom of Information, fully
established as of 2012, submitted its first annual report on the status of
freedom of information.
A number of past and present senior Knesset and
Justice Ministry officials were also in attendance.