Knesset panel passes land mine bill

Only one year after 11-year-old Daniel Yuval lost his leg to a land mine in the Golan Heights, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee voted Tuesday in favor of creating a national authority charged with clearing Israel’s non-operationally-necessary land mines.
The bill, which has the overwhelming support of 73 MKs, is expected to pass its first reading on the Knesset floor as early as next week.
Yuval, who has taken an active role in lobbying for the legislation that will pave the way to clear hundreds of thousands of mines and unexploded ordinance, actively participated in the committee hearing.
“It is important that people do not continue to be hurt by mines, as happened to me, and that we will be able to hike through all of the places that are mined today,” Yuval told legislators. “I hope that this law will pass.”
MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) said the bill was important both in improving Israel’s international image as well as in ensuring that “there will be no more tragic incidents like Daniel’s.”
“Although the Treasury opposes, we must insist that the authority’s budget stand at NIS 27 million, and that the sum be explicitly included as part of the text of the legislation itself, in order to prove that the government is serious about establishing the office,” Bar-On said.
He added that “the steering committee for the authority must include a representative of land mine victims – only they know how to address the topic from a different angle than the disciplines represented by the various government ministries.”
The Treasury has balked at the bill, citing concerns as to the source of funding for the multi-million-shekel project of clearing what some estimate to be over a million land mines. The government authority established by the bill would be responsible for coordinating the effort, both among the ministries as well as among the international organizations that have already said they will offer financial support for the initiative.