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State receives SLAPP on the wrist:
Attorney General retracts law suit against us

Environmentalists are no strangers to SLAPP suits. However, the rules of the game are brought into question when the plaintiff is the State of Israel and the accused is a public interest representative - Adam Teva V’Din.

 

This was the unprecedented situation we were facing when the State sued us and community activists and demanded that we pay of 15 million NIS (4 million USD) worth of damages to Yoav Igra, a hotel developer.

Here’s a short recap: In 2008 we forestalled the building of a luxury resort in the Sasgon Valley due to the fact that the building permit was issued illegally. Subsequently, Igra sued the State to recover losses he claims to have suffered in light of the authorities’ error. In an aim to shirk itself of the responsibility, the State tried to pass the buck onto Adam Teva V’Din, as well as the community activists who joined us in objection to the desert construction. In our opinion, the attempt to point an accusing finger at us, a public interest representative, rather than accepting accountability is disturbingly reminiscent of a SLAPP suit. Click here for the full story.

Adam Teva V’Din refused to keep quiet and immediately contacted the Attorney General appealing him to retract the suit. Leaders of Israeli civil society and respected members of legal and academic sectors also approached the Attorney General in protest of this inconceivable insult to basic democratic principles. The story triggered a media frenzy and we received an overwhelming wave of support, including sizable donations, from the public.

Several days ago, the Attorney General announced that he has decided to retract the law suit against us and the members of the Arava community.

Yes, the Attorney General seems to comprehend the dire threat the State’s action poses to Israeli democracy and civil society. However, the unparalleled ploy to employ SLAPP tactics against a public interest representative has significant underlying implications for Israeli democracy:
Will average citizens and social and environmental activists second guess themselves before challenging affluent offenders?
Should we turn a blind eye and censor ourselves about environmental delinquency at the highest levels?

Absolutely not!

As the country’s environmental watchdog, we will continue to uphold our country’s fundamental democratic principles and will always speak out against any threat to the Israel’s environment and the environmental human rights of its citizens.  

 


 
 

High Court rules: Polluter must pay in asbestos case

The High Court of Justice accepted our position as respondent in a lawsuit filed by the Eitanit Company to exempt itself from contributing fiscally ($42 million) to the Green Road asbestos clean-up program.
 
The court made a precedent-setting decision invoking the 'polluter pays' principle and confirmed that as manufacturer and asbestos distributor has responsibility for ultimate disposal of its product. In its decision, the court commented that Eitanit should have predicted the health risks associated with asbestos at the time it sold off the asbestos waste to communities throughout the Western Galilee.

 


 
 

Regulating the Mediterranean: Marine Management

“The Mediterranean is a vital component in tourism, economic, defense and transportation sectors. And lately, the discovery of sizable natural gas and oil reserves highlights the vast economic potential of this aquatic resource” says Dr. Boaz Mayzel, marine biologist.

However, Israel lacks a sound regulatory framework to protect the marine environment from short and long term degradation arising from these new economic undertakings.

Attorney Shelly Lev-Sherman reinforces the need to regulate Israel’s maritime environment, “Israel is not keeping up to pace with the environmental standards of EU nations who are working to improve the marine environment. Neighboring EU nations have been charged with developing sustainable and clean marine strategies for the Mediterranean by 2020. Although Israel is not a member of the EU, the expectations of us are clear. Continuing to treat the waters in our jurisdiction as the Wild West will not bode well with our EU neighbors. Therefore, Adam Teva V’Din is attempting to close this legislative chasm.”

Our Marine Management Initiative works to develop and promote innovative legislative, policy and planning frameworks based on ecosystem-based management.  The project aims to create an integrative legislative framework which takes into account the often conflicting uses, interests and pressures which exist in Israel’s marine environment.

Recently, the international advisory board, headed by Justice Emeritus Dalia Dorner, former Interior Minister Ofer Pines-Paz and respected marine scientists from Israel, the U.S. and Belgium, held their introductory forum in our offices. We are fortunate to have experts from the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) of Washington DC as our mentors and partners in this pioneering project.


 
 

Just a click away: Pollutants are now public
 
In accordance with the PRTR Law (2012), on 1 December 2013 the first inventory (in Hebrew) of chemical emissions to the air, water and soil from over 400 factories was published on a government website.

Dr. Arye Vanger, PhD, head of air pollution and energy department:

“Having this crucial data at our disposal is indeed an advancement and a step in the right direction. In the coming weeks we will analyze the data in depth and based on our findings, we will recommend necessary policy measures to be taken in order to effectively oversee Israel’s industry.”


 
 

On the map: Svivati

We are proud to have launched Svivati, an innovative tri-lingual (Hebrew, English & Arabic) environmental portal, in collaboration with the Department of Geography and Human Environment of the Tel Aviv University.

The website uses interactive maps to display a wide range environmental issues and information to the general public. Current maps display cellular radiation, e-waste collection points, oil and gas drilling sites, parks, power plants and more.

The information is provided by various public bodies such as government agencies and local authorities as well as by environmental and social organizations.

The site aims to promote a vibrant environmental dialogue in Israel on matters which impact our health, quality of life and evolving global trends.

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