On 1 November 2022 Israel will hold yet another round of elections amid a continuing political and social crisis, as well as a loss of confidence in the state’s institutions and political system by parts of the Israeli public. In the face of this tension, it is imperative to ensure that the elections are held in a free and fair manner. After quite a few years of political recklessness, both in the management of the state’s affairs and in the public discourse, the challenge this time is particularly daunting.
Zulat has formulated a road map based on the major challenges posed by the upcoming elections and their manifestation of the people’s will. The road map consists of three main parts:
1. Reinforce Freedom of Protest
Freedom of expression and protest must be protected to the outmost in the run-up to the elections. There must be no violence against demonstrators in the streets and on bridges, neither by the police nor by opponents. There should be no interference or disruption of protests during this period, nor should they be dispersed in violation of the law or forced to meet requirements that go beyond the law. Police officers should be instructed to behave appropriately at demonstrations and to report any request by political elements to limit the freedom of protest.
2. Curtail Fake News
Free and fair elections take place when citizens are given the possibility to choose their leaders in a free, fair, regular, and orderly manner based on access to accurate, reliable, and trustworthy information about political parties, candidates, and other factors that may impact on their vote. Zulat proposes to establish an interministerial team comprising representatives of relevant government ministries, the Israel Police (primarily its Investigations and Intelligence Division and Lahav 433 Unit), the State Attorney’s Office, the Central Elections Committee [CEC], and the National Cyber Directorate to provide an effective and rapid response to fake news occurrences during the election campaign, and thus help the CEC uphold an orderly election.
3. Protect Voter Privacy
During this time, it is imperative to make sure that personal data contained in the Voter Register does not leak to the political parties for the purpose of targeting voters or persuading them to change their minds. The parties and the companies they employ must be monitored to verify that they report every use they make of citizens’ personal details and that it does not contravene the Privacy Protection Law.
Zulat calls on all decisionmakers to adopt this road map, which has been forwarded to Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, the Israel Police Commissioner, the CEC Chairman, and the Privacy Protection Authority Commissioner.