“…the Arrangements Law is subject to fierce criticism within the Knesset and among the public. Its critics claim that it contains extensive reforms in the state economy and legislation that is not essential for passing the State Budget.”
Extract from the Knesset’s website lexicon of parliamentary terms
Every year, approval of the State Budget by the Knesset is conducted via a concentrated Economic Arrangements bill which packages numerous items the government wants to see incorporated into the budget. In normal times, the ‘Arrangements bill’ is reviewed and discussed in the Knesset over several months in an open and democratic manner among appropriate agencies, the press and civil society. This year, in the midst of Israel’s constitutional crisis, the Arrangements bill includes an unprecedented series of destructive and precedent-setting measures that will disrupt the constitutional protections that apply to the environment and public health.
Amit Bracha, CEO of Adam Teva V’Din: “As the national environmental watchdog, Adam Teva V’Din is studying and responding to changes woven into the Economic Arrangements Bill under the banner of ‘removing barriers’, but which on closer inspection lack a factual basis and which may cause significant environmental damage – at a time when Israel should be focusing on adapting to the climate crisis and its likely impacts.”
Adam Teva V’Din has submitted a series of policy notes and position papers to the Budget Committee, detailing problematic clauses and predicted negative consequences for Israel’s environment. Among the clauses being advanced in the Economic Arrangements Bill for the state budget in 2023 and 2024 are:
- Exemption from review by the National Coastline Protection Committee of national infrastructure projects and national master plans. De facto, disempowering the body explicitly appointed to safeguard the coastal environment – one of Israel’s most important natural assets.
- Subjecting decisions by the National Forestry Officer to prior approval of the Finance Ministry in regard to major initiatives on transportation and energy. Even without this change, Israel’s mature trees are under-protected and subject to destruction despite their role in absorbing GHG, providing shade, and scenic benefits.
- Limiting noise prevention and other protective measures in relation to major infrastructure projects, despite the impact of noise and other hazards on health, quality of life, and the environment.
- Reduction in the public’s rights to appeal and object to national infrastructure plans and master plans. Also proposed are amendments to the Planning & Building Law that will grant automatic approval of all major infrastructure schemes within 14 days from their submission to the government.
- Cancellation of the Environmental Protection Ministry’s role in assessing the environmental impact of large infrastructure projects in favor of private commercial consultants to be hired by project developers. Clearly, such a move would open the doors to widespread conflict of interests.
Amit Bracha: “In addition to these changes, the Economics Arrangements bill seeks to promote concessions to electricity power plants in regard to compliance with the provisions of Israel’s most important environment law, the Clean Air Law (2011). Thus, the government agency NOGA that manages electricity production and distribution via the National Grid will continue to maintain polluting coal-fired power plants unhindered. This is a retrograde decision, likely to severely harm public health as well as neutralize Israel’s claimed commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”