The Israeli Forum for Responsible Planning Representing Social, Environmental and Public-policy Organizations in Israel
A year and a half ago, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of the Interior unveiled a bill calling for the extensive reform of Israel’s planning and building law from 1965. The bill passed its first reading in the Knesset on March 10, 2010. Close analysis showed the bill was an expression of a wide-ranging neo-liberal ideology. If the bill becomes law, it will change the face of Israeli society and the natural environment of the State for generations to come.
Leading social-justice and environmental organizations in Israel have described the law as a social and environmental catastrophe in the making, with serious implications for both the medium and long term. Experts contend the “reform” will wreak havoc with national planning and undo many of the important accomplishments of civil-society and environmental organizations. The new rules of the game will strip professionals, experts, and citizen’s groups of their capacity to influence public policies. Public space in Israel will become the playground of the wealthy and the politically connected.
A year ago, activists united to establish the Israeli Forum for Responsible Planning where they can work together to scuttle the reform. The Forum is coordinated by Shatil. Through lobby, media and public campaign efforts, the Forum has achieved the following changes to the proposed law:
- Reversing the cancellation of the Committee for the Protection of Beaches
- Reversing the cancellation of district planning committees
- Returning the requirement to transcribe and record protocols of important district planning meetings and undoing the law’s allowance that the meetings be secret
- Cancellation of the clause calling for one year jail term for those exposing information from planning meetings
- Cancellation of the clause calling for representatives of the Health and Welfare Ministries to be not to be allowed to attend the planning meetings
- Returning the responsibility for examining environmental surveys from private companies to the Ministry of Environmental Protection
- Cancellation of the Draconian limits on the participation of environmental organization in the planning committees
The Forum also recruited Kadima as well as the Builders and Appraisers Associations and the Regional Councils to the struggle; meets with Ministers and MKs; is present at all relevant Knesset meetings; held a high-level conference in the Knesset; won a supreme court petition to allow more time for citizen response to the proposed law; organized demonstrations with wide media coverage, and much more.