Press Release

The Israel Democracy Institute Is Against The World Zionist Organization (WZO) Settlement Division Bill That Will Come To A Vote On Monday

'It is a proposal that would enable the WZO to supervise itself and trample the value of separation of powers'

Ahead of Monday's deliberations and expected vote on the final draft of the World Zionist Organization settlement division bill in the House Committee of the Knesset, a representative of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) sent a sharply worded policy statement to the committee asking that it make fundamental changes to the bill. In the policy statement, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler, the head of IDI's Open Government project, said the bill is a dramatic failure in its lack of willingness to subject the WZO division to certain administrative laws.

Ahead of Monday's deliberations and expected vote on the final draft of the World Zionist Organization settlement division bill in the House Committee of the Knesset, a representative of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) sent a sharply worded policy statement to the committee asking that it make fundamental changes to the bill. In the policy statement, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler, the head of IDI's Open Government project, said the bill is a dramatic failure in its lack of willingness to subject the WZO division to certain administrative laws.

While the new bill is meant to allow the government to delegate authority to the WZO, which can be seen as a positive step, the revised bill falls short in that it does not require the WZO to be automatically subject to important administrative laws. These include freedom of information, conflict of interest, among others. Instead, every time the government delegates a new task to WZO, the government will have the authority to decide to which aspects of public law the WZO will be subjected.

"This is ridiculous," says Shwartz-Altshuler, explaining that the bill in its current iteration violates the Israeli of system of checks and balances and tramples the concept of separation of powers.

"The government should not be able to decide for itself which aspects of public law should apply. At the very least, this decision should be handled by the Knesset or the courts," she says.

Shwartz-Altshuler goes on to explain that by not automatically holding the WZO responsible to the freedom of information act, the organization will not have the same transparency requirements as other government divisions – though it is carrying out government tasks. Therefore, if a member of the public wanted information about the work of the WZO, he/she could not go through the normative channels to access it. While some claim that the value of transparency is inherent in the bill, she does not agree.

"We are talking about tricking the public that wants to know that its tax money is being used in a supervised manner," writes Dr. Shwartz-Altshuler.

Read the full policy statement (in Hebrew): http://bit.ly/1NF7gHO.


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    transparency