Bill seeks more women on government probe panels

Vote passed preliminary reading unopposed; only two women have served on a government investigative commission since 1995.

Dalia Itzik  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Dalia Itzik
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Only two women have served on any government investigative commission since 1995, but in a rare show of unanimity, the Knesset voted Wednesday to try and rectify the gender gap.
Kadima MK Dalia Itzik’s private member’s bill to require that all such commissions have a minimum number of female members sailed through its preliminary reading on the Knesset floor, without a single vote in opposition.
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Itzik’s bill would mandate that a minimum of one-third of the members appointed to any future governmental investigative commission or a government fact-finding commission be women.
The former Knesset speaker drafted the bill after five commission members and two observers were appointed to serve on the Turkel Commission investigating the events of the May 31 Gaza flotilla, but none of the seven was a woman.
In August, the High Court of Justice ordered the state to appoint a woman to the commission.
The court added that if the state offered the position to five women, and they all refused, the state had fulfilled its obligation. The state has said that during the formation of the committee, three different women were offered a spot, but all three refused.
“The lack of inclusion of women on such panels relays a message of discrimination against women and distancing of women from the centers of power,” said Itzik.
“There is no doubt that the inclusion of women is very important – both from the public aspect of equality between men and women, as well as the women’s contribution to the commissions themselves.”
Of the 20 members of the six government investigative commissions appointed since 1995, only two have been women. The current situation, complained Itzik, is a “continuing failure that seriously harms the values of equality.”
The bill, which will be legislated as an amendment to the current Investigative Commissions Law, will be reviewed in the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women.
Earlier this week, the proposal won the support of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, paving its way toward legislation with the weight of the coalition behind it.