The “Regulatory Authority” is a body whose establishment was originally required within the Arrangements Law and was presented to the public as a mechanism aimed at streamlining, eliminating, and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. In practice, had the latest Arrangements Law been approved in its original form, it would have transferred all decisions regarding the state budget to an unelected body that is unaccountable to the public.
The reason for it is that, in its original form, the Regulatory Authority would have had the power to nix any public allocation in excess of 100 million shekels. Consequently, government ministers wishing to carry out any reform in their office would have been first obliged to submit it for approval to a centralized body with veto powers, thereby depleting their job of any substance.
Following the Attorney General’s decision to approve the inclusion of the Regulatory Authority within the Arrangements Law (with the attendant stipulation that the enactment of any new regulatory legislation is banned until 2024), Zulat approached the Attorney General on 29 August 2021. Subsequently, in the wake of coalition agreements, it was decided to remove Articles 21, 28 and 30 from the Arrangements Law, and the law was passed without them.
The excluded articles deal with the power of the Regulatory Authority to make decisions that oblige the government and its ministers. Their removal from the Arrangements Law is an important achievement as it eliminates the obligation to comply with it, thereby weakening the Regulatory Authority’s powers and bolstering the status of government ministers, who are no longer obliged to comply with a supreme regulatory entity.
However, the obligation to consult the Regulatory Authority remains in effect, therein creating the potential for a major cooling effect on the authority of the elected government. In addition, it should be remembered that even after the removal of some problematic articles, the very establishment of a Regulatory Authority in Israel is something that must be fought, given that some articles contained in the approved law may substantially infringe on human rights, such as the rights to health, privacy, property, employment, housing, education, and equality.
In addition, the law’s goals, principles, characterizations, makeup, etc. contain no reference to the Regulatory Authority’s responsibility to protect and defend the public interest, nor does it contain any requirement to strike a balance between general efficiency and the protection of human rights.
Therefore, the fight against the Regulatory Authority and for human rights will continue and will henceforth deal with the specific articles excluded from the law and slated to be discussed by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee.