'17th Knesset had poor environmental record'

Israel Union for Environmental Defense: Only 14 environmental laws were passed, as opposed to the 209 passed in all other fields.

environmentalism 88 (photo credit: )
environmentalism 88
(photo credit: )
Just 14 environmental laws were passed by the 17th Knesset, as opposed to the 209 passed in all other fields, according to a report released by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) on Monday. Only 34 environmental bills were proposed. The 17th Knesset ran from March 2006 to October 2008. According to IUED's analysis, the Knesset devoted little of its time to green issues. An MK proposed adding an environmental issue to the agenda 127 times, as opposed to 4,750 times for other issues. In light of its statistical analysis, the IUED concluded that it was extremely difficult for an environmental bill to become law. Contrary to what some might think - that everyone agrees the environment needs to be protected - legislation of this type is actually among the most difficult to pass because it requires the cooperation of so many ministries. For example, the Clean Air Act, which was passed earlier this year, affected half of the 22 government ministries, meaning it required terms that each ministry felt it could live up to. As a result, it required three years to pass and will go into effect only in 2011 because the Environmental Protection Ministry will need sufficient trained personnel to enforce it. The IUED report noted that due to the time needed to pass environmental legislation, many bills never make it to the next Knesset. The organization actually singled out Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima) for criticism over the way she handled the Agreements Committee, which chooses the bills that will continue to the next Knesset. It charged that Itzik and the committee based their decisions on whether the government was for or against a bill. If the government was against it, they did not approve it. Because some, and frequently many, ministries object to the terms of legislation, environmental bills are often unfairly killed, the IUED said. It specifically cited a bill to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) that 70 MKs proposed, but to which the government objected. The report also criticized Itzik for failing to appoint a new commissioner for the Future Generations Commission, as she was required to do by law. Without a head, the commission, which ensures that legislation takes into account sustainability issues, was practically brought to a standstill, the IUED said. As a result of the session's lackluster environmental record and Itzik's decisions, the IUED concluded that the Knesset had failed in its role to oversee the government and its activities. However, the report praised several MKs for their sustained environmental efforts, such as Dov Henin (Hadash), Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), Moshe Gafni (UTJ), and Michael Melchior (Meimad). Several other MKs were singled out for honorable mention, including Michael Nudelman (Kadima), Ghaleb Majadle (Labor), Nadia Hilu (Labor), Sara Marom Shalev (GIL), Haim Oron (Meretz), Benny Elon (NU-NRP), Robert Ilatov and Yosef Shagal (Israel Beitenu).