Ministers approve canceling British Mandate-era Press Ordinance

A bill pushing to cancel a 1933 Press Ordinance will make it possible to publish newspapers without a government-issued license.

Newspaper (illustrative). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Newspaper (illustrative).
It may soon be possible to publish a newspaper without a government-issued license for the first time in Israel’s history, if the Interior Minister Arye Deri’s bill to cancel the 1933 Press Ordinance, which the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday, becomes law.
The British Mandate-era ordinance requires a license from the Interior Ministry to publish a newspaper, and allows the ministry to revoke it.
 Deri’s bill that would cancel the Mandatory ordinance takes extreme cases, such as a danger to national security and public welfare, into consideration, stating that the Attorney-General’s Office would handle them.
 “As a democratic country that values freedom of expression, there is no place for Mandatory dictates when opening newspapers,” Deri told haredi news site Kol Hazman. “The Ministerial Committee’s authorization of the bill I proposed is leading the continued democratic process and the opportunity to open more newspapers without government intervention.”
The cancellation of the Press Ordinance does not apply to broadcast or online journalism.
Deri announced the ordinance’s cancellation in March, and already canceled the sections that could already be voided without a vote in the Knesset.
The minister made the move shortly before the deadline to respond to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s petition to the Supreme Court to cancel the Press Ordinance.