All posts by Miri Shalem

Planning and Construction Committee Reform

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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.

“A Constitution for Israel” The Institute for Zionist Strategies’ Constitution Proposal

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The IZS Constitution Proposal contains one hundred clauses.  The Declaration of Independence serves as the Preamble of the Constitution.  The Declaration of Independence’s role as the Preamble stems from its function as a founding document of the Jewish Nation as it returned its land and because its acceptance by a majority of the Jewish population of the State of Israel.  As proof, in honor of the State of Israel’s 60th Independence Day, no fewer than ninety Members of Knesset signed a renewed version of the Declaration of Independence, in an initiative of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.  Additionally, in Clause 4 of the Constitution, it is stated that the Preamble (that is to say the Declaration of Independence) is an inseparable part of the Constitution.  It also states, as a formal safeguarding measure, that a two-thirds majority of Knesset Members is required to change the Preamble of the Constitution.

Our Constitution Proposal is complete and coherent, and proposes clauses connected to the identity components of the State and governmental arrangements.  The Constitution Proposal is divided into ten chapters:

  1. A) Basic Principles of the State (Clauses 1-4).
  2. B) Civil and Human Liberties (Clauses 5-20).
  3. C) The National Home for the Jewish People (Clauses 21-31).
  4. D) The President of the State (Clauses 32-36).
  5. E) The Legislative Authority (Clauses 37-48).
  6. F) The Executive Authority (Clauses 49-64).
  7. G) The Judiciary (Clauses 65-80).
  8. H) The State Comptroller (Clauses 81-88).
  9. I) The Status of the Constitution and other Legislation (Clauses 89-98).
  10. J) Ratification and Amendment of the Constitution (Clauses 99-100).

Following is a short description of each of the primary arrangements presented in each chapter and the rationale behind each one.  The summary was not intended to individually represent each clause of the proposal (for more aspects of the Constitution Proposal, you can read the summary written by Prof. Avraham Diskin in the preface to the IZS’s Constitution Proposal or the comparison between the IZS proposal and that of the Israel Democracy Institute).

 

A. Basic Principles of the State

This chapter emphasizes the characteristics and principles of the State of Israel.  The first clause in the Constitution states “The State of Israel is a Jewish State and the National Home of the Jewish People”. Additionally it states that “the Jewish People fulfills its yearning for self-determination in accordance with its historical and cultural heritage”.  This serves as the identity clause that secures the Jewish-Zionist nature of the State.

Clause 2 states that “The State of Israel is a democratic state, which respects human rights in the spirit of the Jewish heritage’s principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace”.  Clause 3 states that “the State’s sovereignty inheres in its citizens”.

These clauses, and the Preamble to the Constitution (The Declaration of Independence) are unchangeable, except for a two-thirds majority of the Members of Knesset.

B. Civil and Human Liberties

This chapter contains the arrangements regarding the Human Liberties Document, by means of recognizing each person as being created in the divine image and endowed with freedom and dignity.  The rights listed are the rights to life, limb, and safety, the right to preservation of privacy, the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of culture and of opinion, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and of association, the right to have a fair trial and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

It is also determined in this chapter that Israeli citizenship is to be granted and nullified according to statute.  In this manner, the Constitution remains flexible in its allowing the legislature to determine the citizenship arrangements required for the State of Israel. Over the course of the meetings of the Constitution Committee of the 17th Knesset, the IZS proposed an additional version of citizenship (A description can be found in the Activities chapter).

With regard to the right to equality, the Constitution Proposal states that “All are equal before the law; rights and obligations apply equally to all citizens of the State; the failure to fulfill obligations may entail the loss of rights and eligibilities, as shall be determined by statute. In areas relating to the security of the State, the State my restrict rights, obligations, and eligibility for public office to those with appropriate security clearance”.

This chapter also deals with the relationship between the various rights, the balance between them, the restriction clause, and more.

 

C. The National Home of the Jewish People

This chapter deals with the resolution of the Jewish character of the State.  A portion of the arrangements can already be found in the Basic Laws, for example the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, some are expressed in regular laws, and some are not mentioned in any statute.

This chapter includes many arrangements relating to the Jewish identity of the State, for example – Hebrew as the official language, the Jewish calendar as the official calendar, Independence Day as a national holiday, etc.

Similarly, the minorities’ rights are protected in terms of their days of rest, culture, language, settlement and education.

 

Clause 27 secures the State of Israel’s obligation to “ingather the Diaspora of Israel and to establish Jewish settlement in Israel, and [it will] allocate lands and resources for these purposes”.

 

D. The President of the State

This paragraph outlines the authorities and activities of the President of the State.  This chapter secures the regulations that appear in the Basic Law: The President of the State.

 

E. The Legislative Authority

This chapter regulates the instructions relating to the activities of the Knesset, elections, etc.

Clause 40 states that the Knesset will be elected by means of a general election, that is direct, equal and done by secret ballot.  This differs from the Basic Law of the Knesset, in that it does not specifically state that the elections will be state elections (as opposed to representation by region, for example), thus allowing for change in the governmental system.

 

This chapter states that candidates or parties will not be permitted to run for Knesset if their goals or actions promote the invalidation of the State of Israel as the National Home for the Jewish People, the invalidation of Israel’s democratic government, or support of a hostile state’s armed struggle or any other organization that opposes the State.

 

An interesting innovation of the Constitution is that most MKs would be permitted to initiate referendums regarding matters of sovereignty and constitutional questions.  It also states that a referendum is advisory only and that its results are not binding for the Knesset or for any other authority.

Most of the powers of the Knesset and its members will be dealt with in the statutes in order to allow flexibility for the legislature.

 

F. The Executive Authority

This chapter delineates the activities and powers of the government. Alongside the arrangements currently in place in the Basic Law: The Government, a number of additional arrangements have been put in place.  For example, Clause 53 states that a Member of Knesset who is appointed to serve as a minister in the government must terminate his Knesset Membership as would be stated by law (similar to Norwegian Law).

In addition, as can clearly be seen following the elections for the 18thKnesset, is the ruling that each political party must reach a decision, prior to the elections, as to which prime ministerial candidate it is in support of.  Following the elections, the nominee for Prime Minister receiving the greater number of votes earns the right to assemble the government.  Regarding the Budget Law, it was decided that if the Budget Statute is not accepted by the beginning of the fiscal year, the government is permitted to withdraw the equivalent of the twelfth portion of the previous year’s budget each month.  The novelty in this change is that if the Budget Statute is not passed it is not seen as a lack of confidence in the government.

Another interesting and innovative clause is Clause 63, which resolves the relationship between the political and military echelons.  The arrangements in this clause solidify some of the arrangements currently in effect in Basic Law: The Military.  This clause lists the goals of the military (currently unlisted in Basic Law: The Military), and states that the IDF is responsible for the security of the State, its citizens and residents, and members of the Jewish Nation in distress.

 

G. The Judiciary

This chapter deals with issues concerning the activity of the Judiciary.  This chapter contains new ideas regarding the appointing of judges, the appointing of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the duration of his service, the status of the religious courts and alternative arrangements for marriage and divorce.

This chapter additionally secures the right to be tried according to administrative law by means of restricting the right to petition to those petitioners who are directly affected by the results.  The judicial boundaries are also dealt with here: The court may only become involved in administrative authority if it is clear that the purpose of the action is blatantly improper.  It similarly states that the court will not deal with matters regarding foreign policy, security policy or fundamentals of the budget.

The clauses in this chapter emphasize the independence of Israeli Law by means of giving preference to the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace as enunciated in the Jewish heritage.

It should be mentioned that Clause 79 deals with the length of the Chief Justice’s term and limits it to seven years.  Fortunately the 17th Knesset passed a law that dealt with this very issue.

 

H. State Comptroller

There are no significant changes from Basic Law: The State Comptroller.

 

I. The Status of the Constitution and other Legislation

This chapter discusses various issues regarding the normative status of the Constitution.  For example, it has been stated that no statute shall be held to contravene the Constitution, unless a panel of nine or more Supreme Court judges determines that its purpose is blatantly inappropriate.  Nonetheless, the Knesset is permitted to nullify the invalidation of the law, even after the Supreme Court decision.  The Knesset must act within one hundred twenty days of the decision of the Court and the decision must be affirmed by a majority of the Members of Knesset.  It is also stated that no rights or authorities exist aside from what is stated in the Constitution.

Additional regulations: In order to establish a safeguarding provision (sixty-one Members of Knesset, for example), it is required that the law be passed in the second and third readings with the determined majority.  It also states that Emergency Regulations cannot amend or temporarily suspend the authority of the Constitution.  The Knesset may amend this clause with a two-thirds majority.

 

J. Ratification and Amendment of the Constitution

This chapter regulates the way in which the Constitution will be put into effect and dictates the procedure that must be followed in order to make amendments.  The Constitution shall take effect upon its acceptance by a majority of the Members of the Knesset, in a roll-call vote.  Likewise, the wording of the Constitution must pass a public referendum before the second and third readings.  No change may be made to the Constitution except by a majority of the Members of Knesset in a role-call vote. A public referendum must also be held in the event of a change to the Constitution.

In addition, all Basic Laws will be nullified.  The remaining laws that are not included in the Constitution will be covered by new statutes.

 

Downloadable Documents :

IZS Constitution Draft Presentation(PPT Format)

IZS Constitution Draft Full Text

Introduction / Prof. Avraham Diskin

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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

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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.

Every country has a natural and objective carrying capacity limit for the population living on its territory and, in this respect, Israel is no different than any other. With that in mind, demographic projections can and should be used as a tool for planning by the state as well as by municipalities to avoid mistakes that can damage vital infrastructure and public services, such as health, education, and welfare systems. Ignoring the impressive demographic changes of the last twenty years in Israel has produced heavy burdens on Israel’s health system due to a lack of hospital beds and a scarcity of medical personnel. Overpopulated classrooms and a lack of qualified teachers is another such consequence.  Similarly, lower than necessary construction starts in the residential sector is causing pain for young couples.

Developing proper demographic policies can be important tools for planning national security needs to assure internal order and the security of the state’s borders. Jerusalem must bear in mind that without developing such a professional, comprehensive, and long-term demographic policy, it will be very difficult to reach the vital goals of assuring a stable and secure future for generations to come.

For the full research (in Hebrew)

The demography of Jerusalem

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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

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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?

At first, 12 goals were posited to justify  a plan of unilateral withdrawal: Breaking the political deadlock, the neutralization of alternative policy initiatives, separation from the Palestinians, keeping the settlement blocs, the need to protect the residents, the difficulty of low intensity conflict, dealing with instances of insubordination, international demand for political progress, causing international pressure to be directed against the Palestinians rather than against Israel, ending Israeli rule over another people, countering the posited demographic problem, and satisfying the public pressure to leave Gaza.

The second part of the position paper examines the degree of success to which the disengagement plan attains its intended results. The results reveal an almost total failure to achieveany of the stated goals: the political stalemate continues, the alternative policy initiatives promoted before the program have not been neutralized, the separation from the Palestinians has not even been partially achieved, the already negative political status of the settlement blocs has only worsened, and the people of Israel have been exposed to greater threats from the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, Israel has experienced rounds of low intensity intensive combat, instances of insubordination did not stop but in fact spread to additional groups in Israeli society, and the international demand for political progress only intensified. The Gaza Strip, still a demographic time bomb on Israel’s front doorstep and has not been subjected to the same degree of international pressure directed at Israel The Disengagement plan has caused increased international pressures on Israel, it has also weakened Israeli society from within.

Ten years after the Disengagement Plan, there is a broad consensus in Israel that the disengagement  has been a complete and abject failure. This failure was due to geopolitical factors which have not changed so that any future unilateral withdrawal will likewise fail to achieve the stated goals.

To The Full Position Paper (In Hebrew)

Incentives for Service

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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).

In the United States, enlistment was compulsory until 1973, and benefits have been instituted since 1944: preferential mortgages, unemployment benefits, educational subsidies and small business loans are some of the benefits extended to veterans. Approximately 10 million veterans have enjoyed the GI benefits, and in the Cold War era a third of the US population has enjoyed the benefits. It was found that the GI benefits helped many Afro-Americans improve their economic and social status. Similarly, in November 2009, President Obama signed a bill to promote public sector employment of veterans. Two years after the bill took effect, 28% of new public sector employees were veterans (although they comprise less than 10% of the general adult population).

In Canada, where the enlistment is not compulsory but seeks to reflect all parts of society, incentives for preference in the private sector are given to veterans. Veterans are also granted scholarships and insurance benefits. In Switzerland, where army service is compulsory, an extra 3% is levied in income taxes from those who don’t serve. In France, where service was compulsory until 2001, combat veterans receive a special pension and are preferentially given rooms in old age homes. The English Labor Party is initiating a scheme of mortgages for army veterans and priority for an interview with a private employer. In India jobs in government offices, public corporations, and public banks are reserved for veterans. In South Africa veterans are given rights when receiving medical treatment, and in college and vocational aid, as well as in discounts on public transportation. And in Australia they are given an automatic mortgage entitlement.

Proposals to reward IDF and national service with post-benefits conform to accepted standards in democratic governments throughout the world.

 

For the full comparative analysis (in Hebrew)

New Middle East

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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.
Taking into account both the external and internal power equilibriums currently functioning in the Middle East, it may be asserted with considerable certainty that the disintegration of the existing states mentioned in this article and the emergence of a new equilibrium of power will be a protracted process.   To a certain extent it may be said the Middle East is once again in the throes of  the historical process that occurred in Europe following the Napoleonic Wars,  but this time at an accelerated pace.
The events in the Middle East may be the harbinger of similar processes that are liable to repeat themselves in all of thee places in which the borders of new states were not created naturally but were rather the product of caprices of various external forces.
In a recent interview retired U.S. Air Force General Michael Hayden said that in principle he totally concurs with the forecast of Leon Panetta, former American Minister of Defense in President Obama’s Administration, that the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) will resemble the Thirty Years War that ravaged Europe between 1618 – 1648. According to General Hayden, the establishment of a new equilibrium of power in the Middle East will take a full generation and more.
The Sykes-Picot agreement that determined the international borders following the First World War is now dead and buried and an entire era has ended. In an interview with the News Department of YnetNews, former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Benny Gantz stated  that “Someone else is determining the borders in our expanse, and that someone doesn’t recognize any of the political institutions.”
In view of this, any talk about the resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict b way of territorial concessions by the Jewish state being the key to solving the problems of the Middle East is  absolutely disconnected from  reality. Concessions of this kind not only endanger Israel’s protective capacity but also threaten its very existence.
Israel should cautiously monitor and be on the alert with respect to the changes in the relations between the different forces that are reshaping the Middle East, and it should support those forces that can contribute to the creation of conditions that will ensure its security and prosperity in the generations to come.

To the Full Summary (In Hebrew)

Force-Feeding of Hunger-Striking Prisoners

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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.

As part of this opinion paper we will present the legal and moral justification for the new Israeli law which allows forced feeding of security prisoners when their life is in danger. The justification for this law rests on a number of presuppositions:

  1. All hunger strikes represent means of protest and not suicide attempts.
  2. The State of Israel must concern itself with the health and safety of prisoners.
  3. A prisoner’s hunger strike is a means of protest intended as a challenge to the sovereignty of the State. Sometimes the goal of the hunger strikers is to obtain release from prison or a change in prison conditions. Therefore a prisoner’s hunger strike should be seen as a tool meant to prevent the State from enforcing its laws.
  4. The hunger strike of a prisoner who wishes to die is a suicidal act which contradicts the sanctity of life and acts as a means of escaping justice. Therefore it is right to prevent the act, just as additional steps are taken to avoid other suicide attempts in prison cells.

In keeping with these presuppositions, it can be seen that hunger strikes by security prisoners are a means of political protest in the Jewish-Arab conflict. A hunger strike is a weapon of propaganda in which prisoners try to exploit the freedom of expression granted by the State they act against. Moreover, a death resulting from a security prisoner’s hunger strike could have serious security implications and could lead to violence which would cost many lives, both Israeli and Palestinian.

Despite what has been said above, the law includes clear guidelines which would limit the use of forcible feeding tools: forced feeding will only occur at the last stages of a hunger strike, only when there is clear and immediate danger to the life of the prisoner, and only with the agreement of the treating physician. It was also stated that the legal permission force feeding must be issued by the president of the district court or his deputy.

Therefore it can be said that the new law is in accord with the principle of the sanctity of life and allows the State of Israel to safeguard its sovereignty and protect its citizens while upholding the values it holds as a Jewish and democratic state.

To the full paper (Hebrew)

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

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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)