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Summary of 2015  
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Challenging the EU's illegal restrictions on Israeli products in the WTO

When the European Union announced that it intended to authorize the labeling of Israeli products from Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Professor Avi Bell, a Kohelet Senior Fellow,  and Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of Kohelet’s International Law Department,  conducted a study examining the legality of the European act. They recommended using a powerful legal tool in the Israeli arsenal: appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU. They have advanced this proposal with several government ministers and convened a round-table discussion that included Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Knesset Member Sharren Haskel and leading experts in international law. 
>>> Bell and Kontorovich's policy paper
The housing crisis

A team of economists led by the Director of Kohelet’s Economics Department, Dr. Asher Meir, and the head of the Kohelet Economic Forum, Dr. Michael Sarel invested over two years  crafting a program for a long-term solution to the Israel’s housing crisis. Kohelet has produced three volumes outlining the proposed solution. Israel’s leading economics newspaper recently devoted a long article to Kohelet’s program under the headline, “Is this the small bang that will solve the housing crisis in Israel?”
>>> Kohelet Economic Forum's policy paper (Hebrew)
Following the publication of the study (Hebrew) by Dr. Aviad Bakshi, Director of Kohelet’s Legislation Department, on the authority of Israel’s Attorney General, a conference was held  at Kohelet in October 2015 on the topic.  Israel’s  Justice Minister, State Attorney, Deputy Attorney General, former justice ministers  and leading constitutional law experts participated in the conference, which was broadcasted live on Israeli radio.
>>> Scenes from the conference on the powers of the Attorney General
Israel’s path to social and economic prosperity

What is Israel’s economic status and what can be done to improve it? The Kohelet Economic Forum published an in-depth, comprehensive study which is the first of its kind in Israel to review Israel’s economic and social path. Each page of the pamphlet features one diagram or chart with short accompanying text. This diagram/text combination will lend the reader a better understanding of important, relevant economic-social issues in Israel.
>>> The Chartbook
The High Court of Justice strikes down the Knesset’s modified
Infiltrator Law

 
When a petition was brought against the Knesset’s third version of the Infiltrator Law, Kohelet submitted an amicus brief suggesting appropriate limitations on the circumstances under which the court may  intervene in Knesset legislation. Atty. Ariel Erlich, head of Kohelet’s Litigation Department, Professor Avi Diskin, a senior fellow at Kohelet, and  Dr. Aviad Bakshi, head of the Forum’s Legal Department, each penned editorials decrying the court’s verdict.
>>> Prof. Avi Diskin's article in Israel Hayom
The Al-Midan controversy

In June, Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, denied ministry funding to the Al-Midan Theater, which served as a platform for anti-Israeli propaganda and support of terror. Deputy Attorney Generals Orit Koren and Dina Zilber, asserted in a legal opinion that the Culture Minister may not create content-based criteria for denying financial support to cultural institutions. Atty. Aaron Garber, of Kohelet’s Legal Department, wrote a contrary opinion demonstrating that the Koren-Zilber opinion has no legal basis.
 
>>> Garber’s legal opinion (Hebrew)
Policy paper: The place of military radio stations

Eyal Tzur, a research fellow in Kohelet, analyzes the Galei Tzahal radio station in his study, “Galei Tzahal: Where have we come from, where are we going?” He emphasizes the contribution of the military radio station to the army, society, and the Israeli discourse and culture over recent decades. However, he argues that so long as the station does not provide services specifically geared towards military personnel, there is no justification for the continued existence of a radio station in a military framework. 
>>> Policy paper: The place of military radio stations (Hebrew)
Policy paper: The poultry industry

Dr. Asher Meir, Atty. Ariel Erlich and Heni Rothstein conducted a study on “Israel’s poultry industry: Analysis of a centrally planned market economy and proposal for reform.” The study examines the arrangements in Israel’s poultry economy and its financial implications and comes to the conclusion that there is no justification for a planned market under a statutory council. Instead, the market should be opened to free competition, both in the egg market and the poultry meat market to boost efficiency in the market and to lower prices to the consumer. 
>>> Policy paper: The poultry market in Israel (Hebrew)
Rent control

Israel’s Finance Ministry has recently been advocating state intervention in the housing rental market. Dr. Asher Meir, head of Kohelet’s Economic Department, responded in an article in Globes that Israel’s apartment-rentals market is functioning and even thriving and that apartments are readily available at prices considered reasonable by global standards. He argues that the guiding principle regarding rentals should be that, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Uri Akavia, a Kohelet researcher, published an article on the Mida site regarding lessons to be learned from Sweden’s attempts to "correct" the housing market through state intervention.
>>> Asher Meir's Globes article (Hebrew)
Oversight of the criminal prosecution system

Subjecting a civilian to criminal prosecution is one of the most potentially damaging powers that the law gives to a government authority. Nevertheless, until recently there has been no authorized body to oversee the work of the prosecution. A policy paper written by Atty. Moran Nagid, a member of the Forum’s Doctoral Candidate Program, calls for formalizing and expanding such oversight.
 
>>> Nagid's policy paper (Hebrew)
International Law

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich recently published articles in the Wall Street Journal, in Tablet, and in his blog on the Washington Post on the illegality of boycotts against Israel. In July, Kontorovich tesified in the United States Congress on this issue. Kontorovich authored two scholarly articles: Economic Dealings With Occupied Territories and Resolution 242 Revisited, these may well constitute legal rejoinders to the claims that rise against Israel. Dr. Emmanuel Navon, a senior fellow in the Forum, has also written widely on the topic of academic boycotts, including an article that recently appeared in Newsweek.
 
>>> Kontorovich's Wall Street Journal article
Directors General in government ministries

Dr. Reuven Frankenburg, a Kohelet senior fellow who served for forty years in the Treasury’s Budget Department and in the Accountant General Department, explains in a recent policy paper that many of the Directors General in government ministries are not professional administrators. The paper examines the background of this phenomenon and its implications for public administration in Israel. 
 
>>> Frankenburg's policy paper (Hebrew)
Governance and appointments in Israel

Dr. Yitzhak Klein, head of Kohelet’s Policy Research department and researcher Atty. Avital Ben Shlomo arguing that Israel’s ministers are hampered by the fact that they are saddled with senior staffers whom they have not chosen but rather were foisted upon them by the Civil Service Commission. These “gatekeepers” have no commitment to promote the policies of the ministers under which they work. The researchers proposed an “open windows” policy that would make these civil service positions accessible to all candidates who possess the relevant skills.
>>> Klein's policy paper (Hebrew)
The policy paper that created a storm in the Budget Department

In a policy paper (Hebrew), Dr. Reuven Frankenburg examined the functioning of the Finance Ministry’s Budget Department and discussed a long list of inefficiencies, outlining concrete recommendations for remedying the situation. Responses and reactions to the paper were not long in coming.
 
>>> The article in The Marker (Hebrew)
Kohelet’s petition regarding the WZO Settlement Division

In February 2015, the Attorney General issued a legal opinion concluding that the government must abolish the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division. The Settlement Division is the body tasked with carrying out government policy in rural settlements throughout the country. In an opposing legal opinion composed by Kohelet’s litigation department, it was argued that the determinations of the Attorney General were not grounded in any legal doctrine. When the Attorney General’s office upped the ante by issuing a directive against the governments steps to fund the Sttlement Division, Kohelet petitioned the High Court of Justice against this directive of the Attorney General, claiming lack of legal authority. The High Court of Justice rejected the petition, but its decision nevertheless addressed  principles regarding limits on the Attorney General’s authority. Ultimately, the Knesset approved an amendment regularizing the activities of the Settlement Division.
>>> Erlich's legal opinion (Hebrew)
Licensing barriers 

New immigrants of various professions that require licensing in Israel find it difficult to be recognized and to practice in Israel. This problem is particularly acute for medical and paramedical professions (doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, speech therapists, podiatrists etc.). In recent years, the government and the Ministry of Health have taken some steps to address the issue but many changes are required. Kohelet works in this area on all fronts - conducting dialogue with government ministries, initiating legislative proposals and litigating in the courts. In the past year Kohelet promoted several bills, which are now advancing in the Knesset, represented olim from different professions and provided legal advice to immigrant organizations in these areas.
Tax benefits on pension savings 

The governmental tax-break system for pension savings, mainly tax credits and designated bonds, is a cumbersome and complicated system. It was constructed patchwork style, and is not at all compatible with public policy goals. A policy paper written by Dr. Shmuel Abramson and Dr. Michael Sarel recommends a comprehensive, though simple, reform with regard to pension savings benefits. The main recommended change is to abolish all existing benefits and replace them with equal grants to all workers, with a corresponding adjustment in tax brackets on income.
 
>>> Policy paper: Tax benefits on pension savings (Hebrew)
Events and guests at Kohelet 
 
This year as in past years, the Kohelet Forum hosted conferences and events promoting individual liberty, separation of governmental powers, and national sovereignty. Among the events and guests were:
 
A delegation comprised of leading economists, diplomats and free-market policy experts from the United States and Western Europe came to Kohelet in May to participate in the Free Market Road Show, the first event of its type in Israel. Among the participants was Dr. Michael Sarel, head of the Kohelet Economic Forum.
Dr. Ben Carson, a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 elections, visited the Forum and participated in a briefing on the topic of Israel and international law.
In February, the Forum hosted a discussion on the subject of UNRWA’s role in anti-Israel education in Gaza. The panel was chaired by Dr. Amichai Magen, senior fellow in the forum. 
Atty. Jerome Marcus, a Kohelet senior fellow, led a discussion of leading American experts on the laws of war in a discussion of the potential for preparing a restatement of laws of warfare, especially as regards asymmetric warfare. The expert panel was chaired by Prof. Geoffrey Corn, formerly the United States Army's senior law of war expert in the Office of the Judge Advocate General. 
החוק שמדכא את עולם הספרות והסופרים
In August, Kohelet released a video clip calling for the repeal of the recently-passed "Book Law", which mandates minimum prices for new books. In only a year and a half, this law managed to reduce the number of new titles on the market, to cause almost 40% of Israelis to buy fewer books, and to discourage new writers from even hoping to break into the Israeli market. It also raised the prices of new books to twice as much as before.