Gun laws relaxed, jobs revoked — how election-minded Israeli ministers are playing to the right wing

Likud ministers are jostling for position in the forthcoming election list

July 11, 2018 15:30

v Proposals to liberalise Israeli gun ownership laws, which have dismayed women’s rights groups, are part of the Internal Security Minister’s ambitions for a prominent place in his party’s list of candidates at the next election.

Gilad Erdan routinely made it in to the top three spots of the Likud list in previous primaries. This time, however, he fears many Likudniks could blame him for not reining in the police, which is under his responsibility, from investigating the prime minister for corruption.

It might explain why last month he overturned recommendations by the Prison Service and announced that Hamas members in Israeli prisons would not be allowed to watch television during the World Cup.

Now his civil servants are working on new gun ownership regulations that would allow any citizen with a sufficient level of IDF combat training to apply for a gun permit.

Currently it is, in the main, only Israelis who live in remote areas or settlements who can own weapons — 145,000 of them at present, although Mr Erdan’s plans would allow up to half a million more to apply.

The move is opposed by civil rights and feminist groups, who say a higher level of gun ownership will cause a rise of accidental deaths and murders.

Mr Erdan is not the only Likud minister pushing policies popular for the right ahead of the next election, which could happen soon.

This is the traditional time for ministers to launch initiatives that will endear them to party members, most of whom are more right-wing than the average Likud voter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week he wants the current government to serve “nearly” until the end of its term — but that can be any time until November 2019.

Under Likud’s rules, all ministers must compete for a place on the candidates’ list for the Knesset, except Mr Netanyahu himself who will top the list as party leader.

The candidates are chosen in party-wide primaries and while virtually all the ministers are expected to win safe or electable spots on the list, their position will signify their strength in the party and single out the front-runners with a chance to eventually succeed Mr Netanyahu.

Other ministers nodding to the party membership include Culture Minister Miri Regev.

Ms Regev has announced a “loyalty in culture” law which will block government grants to venues that host organisations that mention the Nakba, the displacement of Palestinians during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

Previous attempts to do so have been ruled unconstitutional and this one is likely to meet a similar fate.

Science Minister Ofir Akunis carried out his own member-pleasing manoeuvre this week when he refused to approve leading neuroscientist Professor Yael Amitai’s appointment to the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development, claiming that she supported draft refusal.

Professor Amitai said she did sign a petition supporting soldiers who refused to serve in the occupied territories 14 years ago, but added she opposed draft refusal and her own children had both served in the IDF.

Mr Akunis’s decision was taken after his own ministry had informed Professor Amitai that she had been appointed to the role.

She had already begun working on grant applications to the foundation.

July 11, 2018 15:30

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive