Panel calls for shake-up of election campaigning in Israel
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Panel calls for shake-up of election campaigning in Israel

Committee advocates ban on racist, inciting campaigns, wants more transparent polling, but limited TV ads

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Labor Party campaign stickers saying "Bibi is good for the rich, Shelly is good for me" posted on top of a campaign poster depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Labor Party campaign stickers saying "Bibi is good for the rich, Shelly is good for me" posted on top of a campaign poster depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A public committee chaired by former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinish called Monday for far-reaching changes to the way Israel’s political parties campaign in the run-up to elections.

The committee’s interim recommendations call for an end to a ban on electioneering in the 60 days before the vote and the expansion of election campaign law to the internet and social media, Channel 2 reported. The panel also recommended prudence in applying that law, saying not every breach should be regarded as a criminal offense.

The committee, which includes former ministers Dan Meridor, Ofir Pines and Yitzhak Levi, as well as professor of constitutional and parliamentary law Suzie Navot, was set up after the 2015 elections to streamline legislation on election campaigning that dates back to 1959. Although it has gone through many amendments since then, it has become outmoded.

The panel also recommends a dramatic change to TV and radio electioneering, instead allowing each party list just five minutes in which to present their position on the 14th day and the 7th day before the election is held.

The committee said it saw no need to intervene in the content of campaigns, except in extreme circumstances, but it wanted the law to clearly define and rule out campaigning that is racist or that incites to violence.

Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch, weeks before her resignation. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch, weeks before her resignation. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The interim recommendations suggest leaving things as they are with regard to pre-election opinion polls, but say it should be made clear with which candidate the polling company is working, and the length of time of that relationship. Furthermore, the committee wants pollsters to explain margins of error either via pictorially or in terms of mandates. The panel also said that in the week leading up to an election, each survey should relate to all of the candidates running.

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