Netanyahu Commits to Fast-tracking Long-stalled Bill Requiring Violent Men to Wear GPS Monitors

The legislation was introduced as a private member's bill by Yesh Atid Knesset member Aliza Lavie in 2015 but has been delayed in part over technological issues

Demonstration against domestic violence in Tel Aviv.
תומר אפלבאום

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered on Wednesday that government legislation be fast-tracked that was originally introduced in 2015 and that would require violent men, including men who had engaged in domestic violence, to wear electronic GPS monitors. The legislation was initially introduced as a private member's bill by Aliza Lavie of the opposition Yesh Atid party three years ago, but its passage has repeatedly stalled, in part amid concern expressed about the technology that the legislation would rely on.

Lavie's bill was supported unanimously in a preliminary vote in July 2017, after which agreement was reached that it would be converted into a government bill, but it has still not passed. The government bill was circulated in October and had been due to be considered by a ministerial committee three weeks ago but the committee's consideration of that bill was deferred.

The issue of domestic violence has been in the forefront this week with Tuesday's nationwide protests focusing on the claim that the government has failed to address the problem of domestic violence. A prominent message of the protests was the alleged failure of the government to make use of 250 million shekels ($67 million) allocated to combat violence against women. The protests were sparked by the murder last week of two teenage girls, allegedly under circumstances involving domestic violence.

At the committee session three weeks ago, an argument ensued between Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan after the prime minister claimed that Erdan had not been spending funds already allocated to his ministry to combat violence towards women. Netanyahu said the 250 million shekels, allocated over a period of five years, was approved but was not being fully spent by the public security and labor ministries. Last year, according to the prime minister, although 20 million was budgeted, only 11 million of the sum was spent, while this year 12 million has been spent. "The women's claims are correct," Netanyahu said. "The various systems are paralyzed."

Yesh Atid Knesset member Aliza Lavie
Olivier Fitoussi

Lavie, the sponsor of the original legislation, said the legislation could have been passed long ago. "[It's been] three years of delay and a waste of time. The government has proven that when it suits it, it knows how to fast-track legislation. It has an obligation to also prove it with regard to the electronic bracelet bill," she said, adding: "A year has passed since my bill was approved on preliminary reading, and it wasn't advanced over baseless claims regarding technological problems." The legislation, she said, would save lives and "bring about a change in outlook on protecting women at risk."

The pending bill provides that men who are considered dangerous and against whom a restraining order has been issued would be required to wear an electronic bracelet outfitted with a GPS that would warn an abused woman if the man was in her vicinity or if he has left the area to which he has been confined by a court order.

When the legislation was considered in June by the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, the staff of the Justice Ministry said technological issues remained. When it was deferred three weeks ago, it was stated that some of the technological issues were still unresolved, but it has now been agree that they will be addressed as the bill progresses to a first of three votes needed for passage.