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Precedential Appeal to the Supreme Court

Precedential Appeal to the Supreme Court: to Enshrine the Status of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission in Primary Legislation

Israeli Disarmament Movement

25 May 2016

More than 100 Israeli citizens filed an appeal today (25 May) to the Supreme Court to require legislative oversight of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. The petitioners: "the most hazardous industrial complex in the country operates in secrecy, without public control, oversight, or even under the law. The present situation is dangerous.

Over 100 Israeli citizens filed an appeal to the Supreme Court today (25 May), through attorney Itay Mack, citing the government's refusal to enshrine the operations of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) in primary legislation. The petitioners demand the establishment of legislation to regulate operations of the IAEC, its roles, authority, form of organisation and management, and to require monitoring of its activities and facilities.

The petitioners contend that, though the IAEC was created in 1952, its roles and methods of monitoring its activities have never been enshrined in law. Instead they were established in a secret administrative order, issued by the then-Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, and later via a series of secret government rulings. The failure to regulate the IAEC's operations through Knesset legislation is an extraordinary lacuna, adversely impacting democracy and the rule of law in Israel. In the same way that operations of the General Security Services were enshrined in the General Security Services Law in 2002, so should the operations of the IAEC.

"The ambiguity typifying the work of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission has become dangerous in itself for Israeli citizens", notes Sharon Dolev, Director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement. "While vagueness regarding the existence of nuclear arms in Israel has always been the policy of Israel's governments, its broadening into aspects pertaining to citizens' health and security, the dangers deriving from the condition of the aging reactor, and long-term environmental hazards, is totally unjustified. This is what we hope to change by appealing to the Supreme Court. Legislative oversight of the Commission's endeavours will allow genuine tracking by professional entities - from the State Comptroller to the Environmental Protection Ministry".

Mossi Raz, former Knesset Member and Chair of the Israeli Disarmament Movement's board, said that, "Ahead of Israel's 70th year, the use of nuclear technology must be institutionalized and regulated. The appeal does not express opinions for or against the IAEC. Rather it presents a demand that the IAEC act in accordance with the law".

"This petition to the Israeli Supreme Court concerns the very principle and substance of the rule of law. The nuclear issue in Israel is wrapped in opacity, in both legal and democratic terms. And precisely because Israel is perceived world-wide as a nuclear state for all practical purposes, legislating the nuclear issue will mean applying the rule of law to this fateful subject, still suspended in a twilight zone", commented Prof. Avner Cohen of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, author of Israel and the Bomb (1998). Cohen is a scholar who has focused on the Israeli nuclear issue for over 30 years.

Nadav Sha'altiel, member of the Israel Disarmament Movement, said: "The present situation damages the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It creates a major concrete problem of conflicting interests, since the IAEC is simultaneously the executive body and the supervisory body. Its operations have an inherent conflict of interest".

Attorney Itay Mack added that the petition isn't intended to terminate the 'secret kingdom': "Any law legislated will obviously preserve some opacity regarding the full extent of the conflicting interests within the IAEC. But we hope that at least its authority, structure, and monitoring of its operation will be enshrined in legislation".

Over 100 Israeli citizens signed the petition, which was filed by Attorney Itay Mack at the initiative of the Israeli Disarmament Movement. The list includes lecturers, peace movement activists, and opinion-leaders.


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