Israel Environment Bulletin Spr.-Summer 1994-5754, Vol. 17, No. 2


Israel’s environmental legislation includes laws dealing with specific environmental issues as well as laws of a more general nature which cover environmental matters. Specific legislation relates to air, water, marine and noise pollution, solid waste, hazardous substances and nature protection. More general laws, such as the Planning and Building Law and the Licensing of Businesses Law, provide a framework for controlling the use of resources and promoting sustainable development. Regulations under the Planning and Building Law require environmental impact statements, which form an integral part of the planning and building process.

The Ministry of the Environment currently has full or partial authority for seventeen laws. Following is a brief description of the laws:

  • Public Health Ordinance, 1940: The law defines the powers of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment to control public health and various environmental nuisances.
  • Water Law, 1959: The law establishes the framework for the control and protection of Israel’s water sources. Authority for water pollution prevention is granted to the Minister of the Environment.
  • Abatement of Nuisances Law, 1961: This was the first legislative instrument in Israel for the control of air, odor and noise pollution.
  • Local Authorities (Sewage) Law, 1962: The law requires local authorities to maintain sewage systems to the satisfaction of the Ministry of the Environment. * Streams and Springs Authorities Law, 1965: The law empowers the Minister of the Environment, after consultation with the relevant authorities, to establish an authority for the protection of streams.
  • Roads (Affixing of Signs) Law, 1966: The law prohibits advertising along interurban roads.
  • Tel Aviv Power Plant Law, 1967: This law, which authorized the government to approve a plan to build a power plant to the north of Tel Aviv, dispensing with the need for approval under the Planning and Building Law, has recently been revoked.
  • Licensing of Businesses Law, 1968: The law empowers the Minister of the Interior, in consultation with the Ministers of Health and the Environment, to designate businesses requiring licenses in order to ensure proper environmental conditions. Special environmental provisions may be imposed within the framework of the license.
  • Prevention of Sea Pollution by Oil Ordinance (New Version), 1980: The law prohibits discharge of oil or oily substances into the territorial and inland waters from any shore installation or vessel.
  • Prevention of Sea Pollution (Dumping of Waste) Law, 1983: This law prohibits the dumping of any waste from vessels and aircraft into the sea, except under permits which may be issued by an interministerial committee.
  • Maintenance of Cleanliness Law, 1984: The law prohibits littering or the disposal of waste, building debris and vehicle scrap into the public domain. It provides for the appointment of voluntary cleanliness trustees to help in law enforcement.
  • Prevention of Sea Pollution from Land Based Sources Law, 1988: The law prohibits the discharge of waste into the sea in all cases where practical and economic alternative for treatment or reuse exist on land, under the condition that such processes are less harmful from an environmental point of view. An interministerial permits committee is established under the law.
  • Abatement of Environmental Nuisances (Civil Action) Law, 1992: The law enables private citizens to bring environmental law suits on behalf of themselves or non-profit organizations, in cases of environmental pollubon or nuisances. * National Parks, Nature Reserves, Memorial Sites and National Sites Law, 1992:The law, first enacted in 1963, provides the legal structure for the protection of nature and sites of historic, architectural and national importance. Under the law, two authorities were created: the National Parks Authority and the Nature Reserves Authority.
  • Hazardous Substances Law, 1993: The law authorizes the Minister of the Environment to license, regulate and supervise all aspect of the manufacture, use, handling, storage, marketing, import, export and transport of hazardous substances.
  • Collection and Disposal of Waste for Recycling Law, 1993: The law provides the framework for recycling and authorizes local authorities and obliges them, when required by the Minister of the Environment, to allocate sites for recycling centers and to install recycling facilities.
  • Animal Welfare Law, 1994: The law prohibits cruelty to animals. The Minister of the Environment is authorized to appoint animal welfare trustees empowered to present reports against offenders.

    The bulk of inspection and investigation is undertaken by the Ministry of the Environment’s environmental inspection patrol and by various inspection bodies empowered by the Ministry of the Environment to enforce legal and administrative measures. A unique innovation in Israeli law enforcement is the recruitment of the general public as volunteer cleanliness trustees who participate in enforcing the Maintenance of Cleanliness Law by filing complaints against offenders of the law.

    Israel’s environmental litigation has been minimal for years. In recent years, environmental litigation has somewhat increased as a result of greater public involvement in environmental issues. Several court cases have been initiated by the public and in a few cases, the High Court of Justice has ruled in favor of petitions seeking redress against various authorities for inadequate administrative performance in environmental affairs.