Israel’s Cabinet approves proposed legislation to allow cameras inside polling places


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet unanimously approved proposed legislation that would allow election observers to use cameras inside polling places.

The proposal being championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was approved on Sunday.

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who opposes the proposed legislation, attended the meeting. He said he is not opposed to using cameras to observe at polling places, but objects to the speed with which this legislation was proposed. He called for such legislation to be presented in a more organized fashion and said it is not something that can be taken care of before next week’s election.  He said it could “undermine the entire election.”

The bill will be voted on in an expedited procedure between Monday and Wednesday, according to reports, with the final reading votes  on Wednesday, less than a week before the September 17 elections.

“The integrity of the elections is one of the pillars of democracy and this is the best way to prevent fraud — installing cameras and enabling supervision by rival parties. Mutual supervision by all parties is the essence of transparency in democracy and one of the basics in preserving the rule of law,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“There is no need for special preparation, training or equipment. Any observer can film with their cellphone camera,” Netanyahu said. “Every grocery store has cameras, so voting stations can’t?”

During the April elections, Netanyahu’s Likud Party placed 1,200 hidden cameras in polling places mostly in Arab communities. Likud officials said the cameras were aimed at preventing voter fraud. Critics said it was meant to scare away voters.


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