The Jerusalem Post
Is the time right for regulation of the Mossad like what governs the Shin Bet and IDF?
‘It is not right that an entity of the magnitude of the Mossad is not regulated by an Israeli law’
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday approved a oneyear extension of the rule prohibiting Mossad employees from collective bargaining, but pushed for a new law to regulate the spy agency.
After the Shin Bet was regulated by a Knesset law in 2002, the Mossad became the only security agency in Israel with no applicable parliamentary law.
To date, the Mossad mostly operates on the basis of executive orders issued by prime ministers, with the FADC extending an exemption of collective bargaining rights every year for the last two decades.
Former deputy Mossad chief and committee chairman Ram Ben Barak said that the Knesset can no longer turn a blind eye to the issue and must move forward with legislation.
Ben Barak said that the Mossad is unique even when compared to the Shin Bet because it primarily operates overseas, but that the complex issue of legislation must be debated by the FADC.
“I have sat in on many debates over such a law over the years wearing different hats, also sometimes from within the Mossad, where there are debates about the costs and benefits,” he said.
A legal adviser for the Prime Minister’s Office addressing the issue for the Mossad said they are working on it with the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry.
A similar message came from a Labor Ministry representative.
But former Shin Bet chief and Likud MK Avi Dichter said that, “for the good of the organization [the Mossad], it is not right that an entity of the magnitude of the Mossad is not regulated by an Israeli law. I remember these issues well at the Shin Bet during the period before the law when there were doubts – but it seems the law only accomplished good things.”
This temporary emergency measure of extending the exemption of collective bargaining rights regarding the Mossad has gone on for 20 years and if we do not “initiate a new law… it will be extended for another 200 years.”
Ben Barak said that the PMO and the Labor Ministry always give the same answer to play for time, but implied they are not actually ever getting closer to proposing a law.
Former deputy IDF chief and Meretz MK Yair Golan said that it took 13 years to pass the Shin Bet law from 1989 until 2002.
The FADC must immediately start working on a law for the Mossad, he said, or the issue could be drawn out for another 15 years.
Shas MK Uriel Busso said he understood that at a macro level, the Mossad could not allow its employees to have standard collective bargaining rights, due to national security concerns.
However, he said that there still must be some way to address Mossad employees’ rights and provide outside oversight.
He noted that the IDF and the police do not have standard rights, but do have an independent outside panel with special clearance that can address employee complaints.