Israel Extends Official State of Emergency, Again

Law governing regulations over taxis, cable cars and honey also extended; state of emergency has been renewed every year since 1948.

The Knesset on Tuesday approved extending the official state of emergency in Israel for another three months. The justification was that dozens of regulations, most of which are anachronistic, would expire if the state of emergency were to end.

The official state of emergency has extended every year since 1948, mostly to keep valid a number of administrative orders used by the defense establishment as part of the fight against terror and illegal immigration. For example, the state of emergency provides the basis for the law for confiscating land in an emergency and the law for preventing terror.

The state has been converting many of these ordinances into official laws over the past few years to enable cancelling the state of emergency, but despite the continued efforts, quite a number of these regulations are still in existence.

MK Omer Bar Lev (Labor) joked yesterday from the Knesset podium about some of the ordinances that will be renewed as a result of the state of emergency. "What is the connection between a taxi driver buying his meter and the defense of the country? Is operating a cable car a strategic situation that must be studied? Is a patient who is examined and treated with a radiation device a threat to be destroyed? Or maybe regulation of honey production is the sting of terrorist organizations that have come to destroy us?" queried Bar Lev. It is clear there is no security involved in many of the ordinances and it is just a tool used by the government to camouflage a number of legal arrangements that should be legislated by the Knesset, added Bar Lev.

"There has been very significant work done to turn the emergency orders into regular legislation, but it is actually the legislative process of the most sensitive laws of human rights that have yet to be completed," said MK Zahava Gal-On the head of Meretz. "The state of emergency has become routine and the routine sometimes seems to have become a state of emergency. In a proper democratic country the legislative process that should have canceled the state of emergency should have ended a long time ago," she added.