Members of the Israeli movement against nuclear weapons, together with former MK Mossi Raz and author and historian Prof. Avner Cohen, demand that within 90 days the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, initiate legislation mandating and regulating the status of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission “as is customary in democratic states”.
The Israeli Disarmament Movement, former Member of Knesset Mossi Ras, and Avner Cohen, Professor of Non-proliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, together with attorney Itai Mack, today sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz, who are in charge of the Atomic Energy Commission, demanding that they propose a law defining its responsibilities, authority and organizational structure, as well as a system for supervision over its functions and actions.
Although the Commission was established immediately after the state was founded, its responsibilities, authority, organization and methods of supervision have never been affirmed by law. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, established the Commission through a secret administrative order, and since then it has continued to exist by means of secret government decisions.
The absence of a Knesset law authorizing the Commission’s activities creates an extraordinary and problematic lacuna in terms of Israeli democracy, especially as application of the 2002 Security Service Law extends to the Commission.
“We are of the opinion that the current situation does continuing damage to the basic principles of a democratic regime, as it gives almost unlimited authority to the state’s executive branch,” said ex-MK Mossi Raz.
Nadav Shaltiel, a member of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, stated, “Beyond the fundamental damage to democracy, the current situation creates a very problematic conflict of interests: the Commission is an executive body and at the same time a supervisory body. Therefore the Commission’s activity inherently embodies a conflict of interests.”
“The Israel Atomic Energy Commission’s activities have far-reaching consequences not only for issues that may benefit from the policy of nuclear ambiguity,” according to Sharon Dolev, Director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement, “It also has a direct connection to issues of public safety, health, and preservation of the environment – issues that concern each and every one of us. Yet we know nothing of those activities and there is no supervision over them.”
Attorney Itai Mack added that this demand does not imply the end of the policy of ambiguity: “Any law that may be enacted will preserve some of the ambiguity of the overall scope of the Commission’s activity, but we can at least hope for legislation that establishes its authority, its organizational structure and supervision over its activities.”
The Prime Minister and Minister Steinitz are requested to announce within 90 days that work has begun on the preparation of a draft for the required legislation.
For further information: Sharon Dolev, IDM +972.528.480.543