Latest Articles & Research

Is This Land Still Our Land: The Expropriation of Zionism

By National Public Lands No Comments

Summary:

The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the State could not allocate land to the Jewish Agency for Jewish settlement (inside the green line).  It held that this violated equality because it discriminated against non-Jews (Arabs) who could not buy a house in this Jewish settlement. This, even though the Court had years before allowed the State to sell land at subsidized prices exclusively to Arabs (Bedouins) in an urban area planned just for them.

:Other similar cases were brought, including one which would prohibit the State from facilitating Jewish settlements on Jewish National Fund lands which, were bought with private Jewish funds raised from Jews all over the world since 1901.  The JNF is a private company whose charter provides that it is to purchase land in Israel for Jews to develop and settle, and that these JNF lands were never to be sold (only leased) and are to be held in perpetual trust for the Jewish People. The Attorney General, representing the State in the court proceeding (though never consulting with the government) took the position in court that JNF land, like State land, cannot be used for exclusively Jewish settlement.

Jewish settlement is a cardinal value of the Zionist project to establish and promote a Jewish State.  The petitioners in all these cases are Arab NGOs and many see this as another thrust in a coordinated effort to undermine and eliminate the Zionist state.

In an article published this month in Azure two members of the IZS team discuss this case, the meaning of democracy, and the morality of a Jewish state.  They show that many democratic states, like Israel, are nation-states which promote the majority culture, identity, religion, and/or immigration of its kin (e.g., Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, and Greece).  They show that the Court is bogged down in a parochial conception of democracy and that it misconstrues the nature of nation-states.  They argue that the Israeli Court currently is an elitist, undemocratic body abrogating for itself the right to change the Israeli society against the wishes of the vast majority of its citizens and of their democratically elected representatives.

 

Click here to read the full article

Planning and Construction Committee Reform

By National Public Lands No Comments

A Reform in the Planning and Building Committee

A Brainstorming Session with the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office (6.08.09)

 

As we prepare to examine the reform in the planning system of the State of Israel, we must firstly recognize the fact that the State of Israel is a state with unique circumstances.  The central and most significant piece of information is that the land of Israel is a limited resource and present and future needs are great.  Therefore it is imperative to plan land use wisely and to keep future needs in mind.  Furthermore, the State of Israel possesses additional characteristics that should be taken into consideration:

 

  • A fertility rate similar to developing countries versus a consumption rate similar to developed countries.
  • A narrow width reaching a mere 15 km in certain areas.
  • Israeli society is comprised of weak populations such as minorities, haredim and olim who tend to prioritize urgent needs and short term considerations over long term planning goals.
  • Throughout all the years of its existence, the State of Israel faced Zionist challenges that necessitated the initiation of projects requiring substantial reserves of land and central planning, for example: absorbing waves of mass immigration, establishing the Misgav settlement bloc in the Galilee, establishing the city Bahadim in the Negev, establishing central infrastructure systems (such as the natural gas lines and Highway 6), strengthening the periphery, etc.
  • The disparities in the quality of life between the center and periphery of the State are drastically increasing.
  • Most local authorities do not function properly: State comptroller reports indicate a declining trend both in terms of integrity and in terms of proper management.  A majority of authorities collect less than 50% of property taxes.  Many local authorities are lacking the abilities and tools to properly manage planning while catering to the broad public-national interest, as opposed to what can be observed in national planning policy.
  • The rate of enforcement of planning and building laws is low in the population as a whole and in all sectors of society.

 

In light of the aforementioned, following is a list of core tenets for any future planning policy.

  • The government should maintain jurisdiction over powers that facilitate the preservation of national interests.
  • Aside from the environmental function they hold, open expanses serve as a national reserve of the State of Israel to be used for future generations and Diaspora Jewry. The tools currently available in the planning system should be utilized to preserve the open expanses as a national reserve of the State.
  • The enforcement system for planning and building laws should be immediately reinforced without political considerations or sectoral distinctions.
  • The enforcement should be focused primarily on open expanses (as opposed to building violations such as enclosing a porch).
  • The transfer of building and planning authority to local authorities should be done, if at all, in a gradual and controlled manner, and only to authorities that have demonstrated proper management over time and possess the skills and tools necessary for exercising these powers.  Therefore, the appointment of local planning and building committees, in accordance with Article 62.a. of the Planning and Building Law should be carried out without the easing of rules or quantitative quotas. Government Resolution No. 117 (ממי/5) from 12.05.2009, which instructs “the Minister of Interior to appoint at least ten local planning and building committees…during each of the years 2010-2014” can bring about an undesirable modification of the criteria stated by law.  It is proposed to only approve local authorities that have demonstrated that they fulfill the professional criteria as stated by law.

Introduction / Prof. Avraham Diskin

By Constitution No Comments

This year’s festive Tu Bi’Shvat session of the Knesset, held on February 13, 2006 by Israel s sixteenth Knesset, focused on the subject of an Israeli constitution. The results of two years of work by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, headed by Knesset Member Michael Eitan, in preparation for the passage of aconstitution in Israel, were presented to the Knesset. Both the festive Knesset session and the Knesset committee appear to have been working from the assumption that the seventeenth Knesset, elected on March 28, 2006, would complete the passage of the Israeli constitution, an endeavor embarked upon even before theestablishment of the state.

Israel has a fairly well developed system of constitutional arrangements which are, however, incomplete and uneven in nature. Paradoxically, it has been the legislative developments and rulings on constitutional issues of recent years thathave increased the ambiguity and heightened disagreement regarding basicconstitutional issues. This situation underscores the need to pass a constitution as soon as possible.

 

Checks and Balances

Some emphasize the importance of passing a constitution that will be acceptable to all parts of the Israeli public. Unfortunately, there is considerable doubt as to whether it is at all possible to formulate a constitution that everyone can agree upon. Israeli society is divided in many respects and the State of Israel is a state whose very right to exist is even today still called into question by many, from both within and without. Under such circumstances, along with the desire to attaina broad consensus, there is a need to make unequivocal decisions regarding the basic principles upon which the state and its government are founded. The tension between the need to attain a broad consensus, on the one hand, and to make clearcut decisions on the other, is characteristic of the process that every country involvedin determining constitutional frameworks undergoes. In Israel, however, this tension – between the need to find a fine balance between conflicting demands and the need to make clear-cut decisions – appears to be one of the main factors contributing to the delay in the constitutional process.

Among the subjects that formal constitutions deal with, four central issues need to be clearly decided upon:

  1. The basic characteristics and principles of the state;
  1. The status of the individual and the citizen, and the setting of clear guidelines to determine the relations between the individual and the state’s officialinstitutions;
  1. The nature of the government and of the governmental authorities acting on behalf of the state – including the setting of clear guidelines to determine the nature of the relationship among the official authorities themselves and that which exists between them and the citizens of the state;
  1. The setting of guidelines for the pyramid of norms that are binding on the state and, in particular, determining the status of the constitution, as compared to primary legislation, and the effect of the system of norms when the actions and decisions of the legislature and executive are reviewed by the judiciary.

Making decisions on these subjects is not easy and each requires either a fine alance or a clear-cut decision – which are often mutually exclusive.

 

Nationstate and Democracy

Constitutions in enlightened countries aspire by nature to be democratic. But the question of the procedural and practical definition of democracy is no simple matter. History has shown us all too often that democracy must frequently contend with irreconcilable contradictions between its various demands. Moreover, most enlightened countries developed as nation-states. Some might claim that there is an inherent contradiction between the character of a state as a nation-state and its character as a democratic one. Nevertheless, in practical terms, it would appear that most countries have managed to attain a balance whose results are fairly dichotomous, making it reasonably easy to determine if a given regime is democratic, practically speaking, or not. In the Israeli context, decisions have to be made regarding the essence of the state as the national home of the Jewish people, the rights of its minorities and questions of religion and state, which some maintain have been the principal factors responsible for the delay in passing the constitution.

No basic human or civil right is absolute. From this it follows that there exists no absolute freedom or equality. This is all the more so where the contradiction between freedom and equality is concerned, to say nothing of the additional contradictions between other freedoms and rights. A democratic constitution seeks to present not only a “complete” list of rights, but also keys to understanding the contexts inwhich freedoms may be limited and the nature of the decision that must be made when it becomes evident that there is a contradiction between conflicting basic rights.

In view of the collapse of advanced democratic regimes in the twentieth century, we must not forget that every democracy has the right and obligation to defend itself. It must defend itself not only against those who would use violent means to fight it, but also against those who seek to exploit the rules of democracy itself in order to undermine it. This is all the more so in the case of Israel, which findsitself having to combat consistent attempts to oppose its very essence as a Jewish state and even its very existence. A sizeable minority of Israel’s citizens belong to a people a large part of which, regrettably, views itself as Israel’s sworn enemy.

That democracies need to defend themselves against those who would destroy them has been underscored in a number of laws in democratic states and is recognized as a prominent principle of natural law. In the words of Chief Justice Barak, “A constitution is not a recipe for suicide and civil rights are not a vehicle for national destruction.” It is incumbent, therefore, upon the constitution to give expression to the requirement of a democracy to defend itself.

 

Constitution, Law and the Judiciary

The decision regarding the basic characteristics of the form of government is far from philosophical. There is no dearth of examples showing how constitutional arrangements on the questions under discussion can produce the seeds of rifts and division to the point of causing the democratic entity to collapse. In the Israeli context, it would be wise to draw conclusions from changes that have been madein various directions in recent years. In addition, especially salient in the Israeli case is the importance of maintaining the stability of the government and its ability to govern, on the one hand, and of safeguarding the representativeness of thegovernment and its branches, on the other.

A Jewish Majority in the Land of Israel

By Demographics, Nation State No Comments

By Yakov Faitelson

Growth trends and population forecasts have played a significant role in the political landscape of the Middle East, especially over the thorny question of Israel and the disputed territories. The notion that the Jewish majority of Israel is in danger of being swamped by Arab fertility has repeatedly been used as a political and psychological weapon to extract territorial concessions from the Israeli government. In September 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama referred to the so-called “hard realities of demography” that threaten the survival of the Jewish state.

Such a conclusion is wrong. Analysis of long-term demographic developments leads to quite the opposite conclusion: In the long run, a strong Jewish majority, not only in the state of Israel—as this author projected almost twenty-five years ago and the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics recently reaffirmed—but also in the Land of Israel is quite possible.

Population growth for the Land of Israel at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century will be influenced by the Arab and Jewish natural increase rates reaching a convergence point based on similar live birth and mortality rates. It will also likely be influenced by continued Jewish immigration, including a new, possibly strong wave in the near future following the prolonged world economic crisis and manifestations of rising anti-Semitism around the globe. Repatriation will also be encouraged if the Israeli economy continues to be strong in the near future, an increased likelihood based in part on the huge gas and shale oil fields recently discovered in Israel. The share of Jews in the total population of the Land of Israel may also increase as a result of continued Arab emigration that may include Israeli Arabs as well. According to the results of the first-ever survey on political-social attitudes of Arab youth in Israel, conducted by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth and the Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, both in Haifa, 25 percent of the Arab youth in Israel want to emigrate. Read More

The demography of Jerusalem

By Demographics, Nation State No Comments

In the research, Ya’akov Faitelson, using statistical and comparative data, presents the demography of greater Jerusalem and its anticipated patterns of growth in the coming years.

One of the findings charts the rapid growth trend in the Jewish sector, relative to other sectors. An unexpected finding, is the fact that, in contrast to the center of the city, there is no migration of Jews from greater Jerusalem. The purpose of the research is to create a foundation for the formulation of a demographic policy appropriate to each of the regions in the country, starting wit the Capitol. Faitelson offers innovative suggestions and recommendations for a plan of action.

For the full document (hebrew)

Strategy of Unilateral Withdrawal

By National Public Lands No Comments

Test Case of The Disengagement Program

Adi Arbel and Inbal Liber

2005: The Disengagement Plan was initiated as one of the most dramatic moves in history of the Israeli government: unilateral evacuation of nearly 9,000 Israeli residents from Gush Katif and northern Samaria coupled with the withdrawal of security forces out of the Gaza Strip.

2015: Ten years following the disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria, it is evident that the political reality facing Palestinians has hardly changed – the levels of trust between the two governments is tenuous at best, and the security situation is unstable and a political settlement between them can be described as implausible and remote under the current status quo.

The objective of this document is to analyze the strategic implications from the test results of the unilateral withdrawals, employing the disengagement plan as a case study. What were the goals for carrying out the disengagement plan? Does the program achieve its objectives? In light of the political challenges it faces, can unilateral withdrawals be implemented for the betterment of the State of Israel? Read More

Incentives for Service

By Israel Among Nations, Rights, Duties and Law No Comments

By Dr. Yoaz Hendel and Nicolas Touboul

For several years discussions have been held about different propositions for government resolutions and legislation to improve the benefits granted to citizens who have served in the army or the civilian national service. These proposals include exemption from taxes, preferences for acceptance to student dorms in institutes for higher education, and preferences or benefits relating to allocation of land for housing. In their essence, the proposals entail the basic proposition that it is proper and just-and non-discriminatory- to provide public benefits in return for past contributions to the society and State. The benefits would provide preference in hiring, in wages, and in various state services offered.

On the one hand, the supporters of these propositions feel that the current situation discriminates against those who have dedicated years of their lives to the State. The current level of remuneration shows disregard and demeans the service. It is also manifestly unfair and discriminatory to fail to compensate those who were mandated to serve while others were not. Critics of the proposals claim that rewarding army service and national service discriminates against the Arab and Chareidi populations who are exempt from service. Compensation for service should be made during service and not afterwards, they argue.

This comparative analysis establishes that post-service benefits are common in the Western world. Most of the democratic countries which were examined maintain some system of benefits for those who protect the country within an army framework. In terms of the types of benefits, differences could be found in the determination of who benefits (soldiers, veterans, their families) and in the form of benefit (employment, education, and various other benefits). Read More

New Middle East

By Nation State No Comments

Yakov Faitelson

The inter-denominational and inter-religious conflicts in the Middle East which we are currently witnessing are based on objective factors. This lesson was already understood by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1920 when he proposed slicing up the Ottoman Empire in accordance with the real religious-ethnic segmentation of the local population. Seventy years later the same suggestion was made by Bernard Lewis, and Colonel Ralph Peters of the U.S. Army General Staff, each of them in his own time.

Having consideration for the successful example of the peace agreement between Turkey and Greek that has proven itself over the last 100 years, it may be assumed with a high degree of probability that had the proposals of President Wilson been adopted in his time it would have been possible to prevent most of the current blood disputes.

Read More

Force-Feeding of Hunger-Striking Prisoners

By Rights, Duties and Law No Comments

Yael Baklor-Kahn and Adi Arbel

The proposed law to allow force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners was recently approved by the Knesset. Discussion of the topic led to public debate for and against the proposed law. The purpose of this paper is to present the topic in an organized fashion, to analyze the dilemmas it raises, and to present a considered opinion about the proposed law.

The issue of force-feeding hunger strikers is not a new one and represents an area of public disagreement in Israel and abroad. Until this new law, Israel’s legal position towards the issue was laid out in the law detailing the rights of the ill, a law which set conditions and standards for providing care to a person against his will.

The issue has also not yet been settled in international law. The World Medical Association stated in the Tokyo Declaration that a physician may not make his professional skills available for the purposes of interrogation; the Malta Declaration stated that forced feeding of prisoners is not ethical. On the other hand, in 2005 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that one may force-feed a prisoner who is in mortal danger. Read More

Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007)

By Demographics, Nation State No Comments

he demographic “population bomb” has been perceived for decades as a looming threat to Jewish democracy in Israel. Lately it has been repeatedly cited as a justification for far-reaching territorial concessions. However, many recent studies seem to cast doubt on this threat. The Jewish majority in Israel has been fairly stable for decades, and the gap in birthrates has greatly narrowed.

A new study by Yaakov Faitelson brings a unique historical perspective to this issue. Looking at the past, we see that Jews in the land of Israel have been concerned about demographics since the 19th century, yet the Jewish population and majority has been steadily increasing for generations. Looking at the future, we see that careful demographic projections suggest that the Jewish majority in the land of Israel will likely be fairly stable for another generation. This doesn’t mean that the demographic make-up of the local population is not a valid concern, but it does suggest that there is no justification for panic.

To The Full Research Article (In Hebrew)

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