Environment, Administration, and LAW in Israel: Government Ministries, Part 3
Publication Year: 2005
Ehud Choshen, Richard Laster
The handling of environmental issues in Israel is spread over government offices in their many units. The emphasis today is on the interrelationship between the authorities, with the powers of the executive branch coming from legislation of the legislative branch. The multiplicity of government ministries authorized by various laws is expected to result in a proliferation of environmental units scattered among the many ministries.
This study examined the number of laws related to some extent to the environmental issues that each ministry has.
Government Ministries’ Relationship to the Environment
After the State of Israel was established, it was difficult to fit environmental protection into the existing government apparatus because environmental protection required an innovative approach and was a multi-disciplinary, specialized, and unconventional field. Increased public awareness of environmental damage in Israel and worldwide led to the gradual development of an environmental administration.
The Nature Protection Authority and the National Parks Authority were established in the 1960s, the National Committee for the Biosphere and Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Service were established in the 1970s, and the Ministry of Environment was established in the late 1980s. Government decisions throughout the 1990’s transferred some of the authority that was scattered throughout various government ministries to the environmental ministry. Intergovernmental organization of environmental protection also began during this period. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the government adopted a strategic program for sustainable development in Israel. The program forms a foundation for activities supporting environmental protection.
Each government ministry’s specialization and expertise affects the way it relates to and handles the environmental issues that it is responsible for. Since most environmental issues are multi — faceted, the authority to deal with these issues can be assigned to a ministry that considers environmental protection paramount — such as the Ministry of Environment — or it can be assigned to a ministry that handles other facets of the issue. If the environmental aspect were considered the most important, all the authority for these issues would be transferred to the Environmental Ministry, as has occurred in some countries. Meanwhile, it appears that only topics that are easily transferred, that do not “belong” to other ministries, or that seriously conflict with other topics under other ministries’ control, have been transferred to the Ministry of Environment.