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Miri Shalem

Law Enforcement In Judea and Samaria

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This study examined methods of law enforcement in Judea and Samaria in three case studies: enforcement of building laws, enforcement of water laws, and enforcement of traffic laws. The study’s objective is to present the reality on the ground, primarily according to findings in relevant State Comptroller reports, and to explain the problems involved in these issues and their broader context. The main findings are presented below:

  • In the field of building it seems that there is significant under-enforcement, leading to many illegally constructed buildings not being demolished. This state of affairs stems from coordination and policy failures at different stages of the demolition process. Furthermore, no criminal enforcement exists against those violating the building laws.
  • In the water field, the lack of coordination between all the relevant bodies results in almost unhindered water theft in Judea and Samaria. The authorities fail to efficiently seal the illegal boreholes and sever the pirate connections. Here too, the authorities fail to conduct criminal proceedings against violators of the law.
  • In the field of traffic, there are two legal systems in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians are tried before a military court while Israelis are tried by an Israeli court. A dispute regarding jurisdiction between the military prosecution and the Judea and Samaria Police has led to a situation whereby Palestinian drivers suspected of traffic offences are almost never brought to trial in the military courts.

 

In light of these findings, it would appear that the situation in Judea and Samaria is indeed one of complete lawlessness with frequent violations of the law and a lack of efficient enforcement against criminals. This state of affairs seriously impinges upon the quality of life of all the region’s residents – Jews and Arabs alike – as all are victims of the dangerous driving culture stemming directly from the lack of adherence to traffic laws, of a shortage in water caused, among others, by the water thefts and lack of infrastructure, and of the dangerous construction resulting from illegal and unsupervised building.
This study also examined the broad context of manifold violations of the law and found that additional underlying factors also contribute to the current state of affairs:

 

  • A lack of infrastructures in the three fields examined; in authorization for legal building (for both populations), a water shortage (among the Palestinian population), and in suitable traffic infrastructures. We believe that these infrastructure issues are an underlying problem which, left unsolved, will prevent any enforcement, however efficient, from successfully eradicating the current state of lawlessness.
  • In the area of water, it is clear that the Palestinian Authority plays a not insignificant role in contributing to the Palestinian population’s water shortage.
  • In the traffic field we found that Area C is characterized by an especially unrestrained driving culture. This problem can only be fundamentally solved by investing additional resources in areas other than enforcement.

 

Because this region is under political dispute, it is our opinion that the only long-term solution for these underlying problems is imposition of Israeli sovereignty over the region. Imposition of sovereignty will enable an orderly allocation of resources in accordance with the needs of the population, will transfer exclusive and efficient management of the water field to Israeli hands, and will facilitate long-term eradication of the widespread dangerous driving habits.

to the full research…

Democracy in Dilemma: Means for Fighting Terror

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Amit Eisenman, one of the Institute’s researchers, has recently focused on the question of the legitimacy of using singular measures of punishment and deterrence to combat a singular crime – terror. In keeping with our best tradition, we chose to examine the issue by means of a comparative study with the aim of refuting the claim that targeted preventative killings, demolitions of houses and revocation of citizenship are unreasonable means in a democratic regime.
The study examines the use of these three practices in the fight against terror in the member countries of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the US. This study aims to enhance the perspective of decision-makers in Israel and to demonstrate how different countries contend with the similar challenges of fighting terror they share. The main findings are presented below:
Regarding targeted preventative killings, 4 of the 6 countries examined maintain armed UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) intended for use in this faculty. In practice, such killings have been employed by 3 of these countries in recent years (those with larger armed forces and broader scope of operations).
Although this form of house demolition is a procedure uniquely instigated by the State of Israel, a person convicted of terrorism in France also forfeits his assets to the state.
Revocation of citizenship is the most commonly employed means of those studied: all the above countries employed this practice and apart from Canada, which has foregone its use, revocation of citizenship is still implemented by the other countries. In Italy, a terrorist’s citizenship may be revoked even if he remains stateless as a result.

to the full research…

 

 

The Truth according to Breaking the Silence: An Analysis of Testimonies

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In recent years, the Breaking the Silence organization has released a
series of publications that expose a database of IDF soldier
testimonies from their service in Judea and Samara, as well as the
various Gaza operations. Based on these testimonies, Breaking the
Silence has concluded that the IDF is in a moral and ethical decline.
This decline, they explain, is the direct result of the continuous
existence of the “occupation” policy.

In light of the organization’s statements about a systematic moral
deterioration of the military system, we have conducted research in
which we have carefully examined 100 of the total testimonies
presented by BTS – according to select criteria: incident time and
location, military layout, described damage type, context, etc., in
order to deeply examine BTS’ testimonies and the validity of their
conclusions.

The research suggests that there is no correlation between BTS’ claims
and the conclusions suggested by their presented testimonies. Our
research indicates several fundamental problems that impair the
validity of BTS’ conclusions regarding the IDF’s warfare practices and
its routine conduct with civilians

 

to the full research…

Total Fertility Trends in Israel

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Total Fertility Trends in Israel:Total Fertility Trends in Israel: How did the Demographic Time Bomb become a Demographic Miracle? Summary Researchers and policy makers periodically air the claim that the Arab population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is growing at a rate double to that of the Jewish population, a fact that will, in the near future, lead to the negation of the Jewish majority. This concern, known as the “demographic time bomb”, stands at the heart of a dispute among different demographists and arouses an intense argument in Israeli academic and public discourse. The objective of this paper is to construct an accurate picture of the demographic reality in Israel and to assess the true dimensions of the demographic threat.As is well known, two mechanisms determine the size of a population: life expectancy at different ages and the rate of fertility.  In this paper, we examined the trend of the total fertility rate among population groups living in Israel according to nationality, religion and different settlement regions over a range of periods. Furthermore, we compared this trend with the development of the total worldwide fertility rate and of the populations of different countries in the Middle East. An analysis of the data gathered revealed both trends of growth among the Jewish and Arab populations during the last 60 years and expectations for the future. A summary of the main findings is presented below:

• At the beginning of the 21st century, a turnaround was registered in the fertility level of the Jewish population: Total Jewish fertility had previously declined for 45 years, from the beginning of the 1960s until the end of the century. Until 1995, the total fertility rate among Jews in Israel was the lowest of all Middle Eastern countries and significantly lower than the total fertility rate among the Arab population living in Israel. However, the total Jewish fertility rate began to rise rapidly from 2001, reaching 3.16 children per woman in 2016. This figure was higher than the total fertility rate in 10 of the 15 Middle Eastern countries surveyed and higher than the total fertility rate of the Arab population in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. In only 4 countries in the Middle East – Iraq (4.06), Yemen (3.77), Egypt (3.30), Jordan (3.18) and in the Gaza Strip (3.91 or 4.30 depending on the estimation of the US Census Bureau) – was the total Arab fertility rate higher than that of the Jews in Israel.

• The last decade’s demographic figures for the population of Israel indicate a continued increase in total fertility among Jews and a constant decline among the Arabs, in all Israel’s administrative districts. In contrast to the trend of a sharp increase in Jewish fertility in Israel, during the last 56 months, the total fertility of Israel’s Arab population declined by 61.1%, from 7.99 children per woman in 1960 to 3.11 in 2016. Among Sabras (native born Israelis), who constitute 76.3% of the country’s total Jewish population, the total fertility is even higher – 3.25 children per woman. An examination of the demographic figures of Israel’s population according to ethnic origin and religion reveals that in 2016, the difference between total fertility of Israeli Muslims and that of the Sabras had narrowed to only 0.04 children.

• The turnaround in total fertility among Jews and Arabs occurred as a result of changes in the trends of births among these two populations. In only the last 16 years, the number of births among Jews increased by 47.2% compared to an increase of just 7.5% among Arabs. If in 2001, 2.18 Jewish babies were born for every Arab baby, in 2017 this figure had increased to 3.1 Jewish babies, a difference of 42.2%.• Until 2005, total Jewish fertility was the lowest in all of Israel’s administrative districts. In 2016 however, total Arab fertility was higher than that of the Jewish population only in the Central and Southern Districts. Furthermore, if in 2005, the total Arab fertility in the Central District was higher by 2.29 children per woman, in 2016 the difference was only 0.28 children per woman.

• The difference between the total fertility rate among the Jewish and Arab populations, has narrowed in the last 18 years from 7.28 children per woman in 1998 to 2.25 children per woman in 2016. If the current 17-year declining trend in total fertility among the Arab population in the Southern District continues, it may draw level with that of the Jewish population by the mid-2020s.

• The total fertility rate of the 399,300 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria in 2016 stood at 4.98 children per woman and was only 0.47 lower than that of the 250,800 Arbs living on the Southern District.

• Estimates of the US Census Bureau (USCB) even indicate a constant trend of decline in total fertility among the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority. Until mid-2017, the USCB estimate for 2016 indicated a total fertility rate of 2.71 children per woman among the Arab population of Judea and Samaria and 3.91 children per woman among Gazan Arabs. In an updated estimate issued in mid-2017, the USCB amended the 2016 figures to 3.33 children per woman for Judea and Samaria and 4.30 for the Gaza Strip. However, even according to this estimate, the total fertility among the Arab population in Judea and Samaria declined by 58.1% within 40 years from a peak of 7.95 children per woman in 1976. Furthermore, the total fertility rate among the Arab population in Gaza declined by 47.1% in only 25 years, from 8.13 children per woman in 1991. This trend indicates that the decline in total fertility among the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza was sharper than that registered among Israel’s Arab population.

• According to the new USCB estimates, the total fertility among the Arab population of Judea and Samaria is expected to decline to 3.14 children per woman in 2019 and to 2.14 in 2050. According to the same study, the total fertility rate in the Gaza Strip will reach 3.14 children per woman in 2025 and 2.12 in the year 2050.
In summary, not only do the fertility figures presented above not support the concern of a “demographic time bomb”, they in reality testify to a demographic turnaround in favor of the Jewish population resulting from an increase in the total fertility rate. This increase is expected to continue into the future, even if at a slower rate.

to the full research…

The Expulsion Law

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On July 20 2016, the Knesset passed the final approval of “The Expulsion Law” according to which, a serving Member of the Knesset may be removed from his position if three quarters of the Knesset Committee members determine that he has incited to racism or expressed support for an armed struggle against the State of Israel.[1] This law has aroused protests among many members of the Opposition and certain organizations such as Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as being concerned for the rights of Israel’s minorities. According to them, the law constitutes a mortal blow to the values of democracy. They further claim that its sole purpose is to expel Arab Knesset members.
In order to attempt and resolve the issue, we have chosen to study the state of affairs in countries possessing characteristics and regimes similar to those of Israel i.e., democratic nation states. Accordingly, the study presented below examined limitations imposed on political parties and on members of parliament in twelve democratic states, members of the OECD. The study surveyed the existence and actual implementation of legal preventative measures that restrict the foundation or registration of political parties seeking to participate in elections, and also retroactive steps including disassembly or disqualification of a party after its foundation, and suspension or expulsion of a serving member of parliament.

This publication constitutes a complementary study to two relevant studies on the subject published by the Knesset Research and Information Center (hereinafter: RIC) that were conducted in 2006 and 2016 and that, among others, is based on their findings.
This study reveals a clear picture:

Not a single country granted its citizens the full and unrestricted right to vote and be elected.

  • Six of the twelve countries surveyed impose limitations on the registration of political parties.
  • Nine of the twelve countries surveyed enable the suspension or legal disqualification of a political party.

A combination of the findings of our study with those of the RIC from 2006 and 2016 reveals that:

  • Fifteen of the twenty-eight countries surveyed impose limitations on the activity of political parties.
  • Fifteen of the twenty-eight countries surveyed enable the suspension or legal disqualification of a political party.
  • Eight of the twenty-four countries surveyed implement expulsion or suspension of a member of parliament for different behavioral offences, aside from any legal proceedings that may be initiated.

A summary conclusion of the three studies reveals the existence of substantial limitations on political activity (mainly of political parties), of differing levels of severity, while making use of a range of legal and constitutional procedures. A comparative view of the existing arrangements in the different countries suggests that the “Expulsion Law” represents a unique version in relation to parallel laws around the world. Nevertheless, when considering the Supreme Court’s practical disregard for the existing legislation, and given the restrictive and stringent circumstances regarding its activation, it serves as a legitimate (and some would say, even necessary) defense mechanism for creating a fitting balance between freedom of expression and stability of the democratic regime.

[1] Jonathan Lis, After Stormy Debate Knesset Approves Law Allowing Ouster of Lawmakers, Ha’aretz, July 20, 2016. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.731962

to the full research…

Hafkaat Kiddushin

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This position paper presents the proposed law that seeks a legally mandated solution for the problem of aginut (the situation whereby a spouse is ‘chained’ to a marriage) resulting from the husband’s refusal to grant his wife a get (a halakhic divorce), or from her refusal to accept a get.  A get ends the marriage. The proposed law is based on a mechanism that was suggested in the Babylonian Talmud to enable the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court), in severe circumstances, to annul the validity of the betrothal that the couple had originally mutually entered. This mechanism is termed hafka’at kiddushin (retroactive annulment of the betrothal).

As explained in the paper, the authority for such retroactive annulment is given not only to the Beit Din but also to the ‘kahal’ – the community. In other words, the community in which the couple lived, also has the authority to decide on implementation of the retroactive annulment of a betrothal in those cases in which the members of the community see fit. In contemporary circumstances, the ability to make such decisions “in the name of the community” can be understood to reside with our elected representatives i.e., the members of the Knesset. The central recommendation of Professor Berachyahu Lifshitz,[1] the author of this paper, is that the harsh reality of aginut created by recalcitrant husbands, should lead the Knesset to legislate the use of hafka’at kiddushin as a means of solving the problem, thereby saving women from this tragic plight.

[1] Berachyahu Lifshitz is a professor of law, senior research fellow at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, the former dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University, an expert in Jewish Law and laureate of the EMET Prize awarded under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Israel.

To the full research…

New Comparative Study: National Symbols in Democratic Countries

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In advance of this year’s Yom Ha’atzamaut (Independence Day), we released another publication in the series of comparative studies conducted within the framework of the ‘Israel and the Nations’ project in which we demonstrate thatthat Israel maintains a discriminatory policy vis-à-vis its minorities, are groundless.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the ‘National Vision’ movement, surveys a large number of democratic nation states, shows the connection between their national anthem, flag and emblem, and the nationality of their founding community, and proves that the attempts to present Israel as an apartheid state, are wholly unfounded.

We thank the team that conducted the study: Noa Lazimi (you can listen to Noa’s interview with Michael Miro here – [Hebrew]), Almog Turgeman, Omer Arica and Adi Arbel. An article about the study can be read here (Hebrew).

For the full study

National Symbols in Democratic Countries

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One of the common claims raised against the State of Israel, in various contexts, is that its national symbols – the flag, emblem and anthem – are perse discriminatory vis-à-vis minorities living in Israel and specifically, the Arab minority. The particularly Jewish characteristics present in the national anthem, flag and official emblem arouse the objection of certain sectors of the Israeli public and of organizations such as ‘Adalah’ (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as dedicated to minority rights in Israel.

In an attempt to resolve this issue, we decided to conduct a study comparing the situation in Israel to that in countries with similar characteristics – nation states that are full democracies, and so recognized by the international community. To that end, the study referred to below examined the use of national emblems in 32 democratic developed countries, members of the OECD, similar to Israel. The comparison was made with regards to the national flags, anthems and emblems of these countries.

The findings reveal a clear fact: The overwhelming majority of the countries examined make use of national emblems that express the religious, ethnic or national heritage of its founding communities. Some of the main findings are summarized below:

  • 30 of 32 countries are not homogeneous with regards to religion i.e. the dominant religious group does not comprise more than 90% of the population. Only 13% of the countries examined are ethnically homogeneous.
  • In 28 of 32 countries, the national anthem includes words that bear a religious, national or ethnic nature.
  • In 26 of 32 countries, the national emblem contains a religious or national affinity. In 11 cases, the emblem contains a cross or a crescent.
  • In 25 of the 32 countries, the national flag includes religious elements affiliated with the founder’s nationality, religion or historical homeland. In 11 cases, the flag contains a cross or a crescent.

These findings clearly prove that the State of Israel is not exceptional in its selection of national symbols. In practice, Israel’s use of symbols drawn from Jewish history and heritage constitutes an expression of a long-standing universal tradition with no basis for a claim of discrimination or untoward exclusion of the minorities living in Israel.

to the full research…

Israeli Hamshoosh

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Written by Yair Berlin, Eitan Yarden,

Aviad Houminer and Ariel Finkelstain

The idea of fixing another official day of rest in the State of Israeli has come up on numerous occasions in the course of public debate, as well as in the Knesset, since the year 2000. Traditionally speaking, those advocating an additional official day of rest for the Israeli economy propose Sunday. The most serious proposal to be submitted thus far suggested that most of Sunday’s work hours be made up on Friday, which would, in turn, become a part-time work day, while the remaining hours would be made up by adding half an hour to each work day, Monday through Thursday. Those in favor of the move made the following claims: Such a move would strengthen the Israeli economy by making it compatible with Western economies around the world in terms of rest and work days; it would also strengthen the various fields of culture, sports and tourism and render numerous solutions – aimed at settling the religious status of the Sabbath – feasible.
The writers of this position paper believe that the claims made in favor of the new national work schedule and its ability to promote new regulation with regards to the status of the Sabbath are exaggerated. It is possible, though, that as part of an overall arrangement regarding the status of the Sabbath, such a proposal might take the edge off some of the more heated points of dispute; however, a broader view of the Sabbath issue suggests that the subject proposal should be considered as no more than a minor tool in this regard. It is not an essential component. The central focal point in any arrangement settling the official status of the Sabbath must be one that offers solutions from within the current Sabbath framework with adjustments to make it more amenable to all levant parties.
As to the claims of economic benefit from such a step, an inter-ministerial committee which examined the proposed change, headed by Israel’s National Economic Council, pointed to numerous negative economic consequences. It was the committee’s opinion that the main disadvantage of the proposal lies in the fact that by turning Friday into a short work day, and extending work hours on other weekdays, productivity will be reduced, resulting in a lower GDP and ultimately in less money for every citizen. For this reason, all the central economic bodies in Israel have objected to the proposal, claiming that it would harm Israel’s economy. Some other significant objections were made claiming the move was unfeasible due to the heavy traffic congestion that would result from the partial work day on Fridays, and also because significant entities like the IDF and parts of the education system would not fit in with the new work schedule, thus making it even less feasible. The Moslem and Druze communities, comprising about 20% of Israel’s population, have also voiced their objection to the move, which would turn Friday – regarded by them as a sacred day – into a an official, albeit part-time, work day. Although the committee agreed that the move would be advantageous to sports and cultural activities in light of the numerous disadvantages. It decided to reject the proposal.
Two different public opinion polls concerning this matter show that about 50% of the public supports the proposal, while 43-44% oppose it, even if it entailed a reduction in work hours. Among the supporters, many said that if the move would harm their personal finances in any way, they would oppose it.
In light of the above, this position paper proposes a change of course in the public debate. We advocate making Friday a full day of rest, thus creating a long weekend, beginning Thursday night and ending Sunday morning. We believe that most of the advantages to sports and culture resulting from a day off on Sunday, can also be achieved by means of this proposal, with a special focus on integrating religiously observant athletes in sports competitions.
Our proposal also fits in nicely with the recommendation of the Dovrat Committee to cancel school studies on Friday, resulting in a 5 day school week which is common in most Western countries. This would also save large sums of money. The proposition to cancel school studies on Friday has also received the support of parents’ unions, which have long advocated contiguity brtween the school and work weeks. An additional advantage, is that Friday, a sacred day for Moslems and Druze, also becomes a national day of rest. The very fact that the State will recognize Friday as an official day of rest will serve to strengthen ties between these groups and the State, and might even strengthen the integration of these groups into the labor market. In contrast to the proposal promoting Sunday as the official day of rest which would be very costly, declaring Friday as an official day of rest involves minor costs so that the change is more feasible.
Furthermore, in the appendix to this position paper there is a proposition for employers and employees to reduce the work hours on Thursday by two, while extending the other work days by a half hour, thus enhancing the quality of the Israeli Hamshoosh – an extended weekend beginning Thursday afternoon, including Friday and Saturday as official days of rest.

to the full research…

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