Paz-Pines lauds 'greenest-ever' Knesset session

A day before the Knesset's six-month winter session came to a close, Interior Committee Chairman Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) on Tuesday sounded a note of optimism on the environmental front, describing the session as "the greenest session that has ever been in the Knesset." Although environmentally-focused legislation was still "in its diapers" and Israel was still 20 years behind the rest of the world in the area, Paz-Pines said, an average of one-and-a-half environment-related bills per month passed the committee's desk since the session began. All of those bills were private bills, initiated by individual MKs, whereas the government - Interior Ministry representatives noted - did not sponsor a single environmental bill. The numbers: Nine private "green bill" proposals reached the preliminary stages of legislation Four of those made it through the full process and became law: • a law to preserve Eilat's coastal environment, • a law to preserve Lake Kinneret's coastal environment, • a law to allow municipal inspectors to close roads because of air pollution, and • a law forbidding charging entry fees for public parks. Two bills are being prepared for second and third (final) readings: • The Israel Clean Air Act, and • a bill that would allow local governments to enforce laws against polluters. Three bills were approved by the Interior Committee and are en route to their first reading: • a bill on environmentally-sound lighting in public buildings, • a bill prohibiting charging children for entry to beaches, and • a bill increasing enforcement against industrial polluters. Eighteen Interior Committee hearings were held involving the environment and four "green" amendments were approved by the committee, including one against putting antennas in apartments and on balconies.