Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked lashed out Tuesday at what she said was an excess of private members’ bills — draft legislation proposed independently by members of the Knesset — that were harming civil freedom.
“Legislation in Israel has reached a dangerous level,” she told an Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv, Haaretz newspaper reported.
“The freedom of each and every one of us is being deeply harmed by the competition between Knesset members to legislate…We’re swapping healthy competition between businesses in the market for harmful competition between Knesset members and ministers.”
Shaked said that she was proud that the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which she chairs, had put a break on 1,100 out of 1,500 private members’ bills brought before it for consideration since the beginning of the current 20th Knesset.
“I see the law committee as the Israeli people’s loyal gatekeeper,” she said, adding that the body “understands there’s no need for a flood of excessive legislation.”
Easing prison punishments
Shaked also referred to the government’s decision earlier this month to adopt some of the recommendations of a committee on punishment policy chaired by retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, and, paradoxically, set up in the wake of public complaints that sentencing was too light.
The Dorner Committee concluded that harsh prison sentences not only failed to deter criminals but actually increased the chances they would break the law again and that rehabilitation outside of prison was cheaper and more effective.
Legislative proposals aimed at stiffening punishments would have to be accompanied by an opinion from a professional research division being setting up at the Justice Ministry, Shaked told the conference.
“We will not allow for a situation in which new rules are determined for limiting the freedom of a person convicted of a crime before checking beforehand whether such a drastic step can be prevented and what the alternatives are.”
In an apparent reference to a current probe into allegations of corruption by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit told the conference that he was aware of the need to keep the public informed about law enforcement activities, particularly those pertaining to public servants, and that it was important to pursue probes of public figures quickly.