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"  The crises in climate, energy, natural resources and food sources are no longer marginal topics on the public agenda, ..."

Labor Platform: Sustainability and the Environment

16 ינואר 2013

 

The crises in climate, energy, natural resources and food sources are no longer marginal topics on the public agenda, but rather major issues of great importance, holding central positions on the desks of the governments worldwide. These issues influence Israel's national resilience, and the quality and standard of living for all its citizens.

Israel is a small and densely populated country, which is relatively poor in land, water, and natural resources. Therefore the environmental challenges Israel faces require leadership with a wide and creative vision for today as well as for future generations.

Additionally, the trends of privatization which have become increasingly prevalent in Israel in recent decades have resulted in land, infrastructural, and natural resources being taken away from the public in order to benefit individuals.

The Labor Party believes that a healthy environment and environmental justice are cornerstones of the foundation of social justice, and it will work towards ending these privatization trends and implementing the principles of sustainability and green growth through its actions in the Knesset and the government.

The Labor Party will work towards the protection of the environment, conservation of land and natural resources, and ensuring sustainable water and energy industries which protect environmental values. The policies that it will form in these areas will be guided by the values of justice and equality.

The Labor Party will advance comprehensive social-environmental legislation, which will first and foremost guarantee the right of all people to a healthy and clean environment and will defend the natural resources which belong to the general public. The party will also work towards updating existing legislation relating to transportation, energy and water, in order to return responsibility for these services to the hands of the government, and will work to rescind the recent reforms which dealt with the privatization of state land and the state planning system.

 

Water

The Labor Party believes that access to clean water is a fundamental human right. Water is a basic and national resource, not a consumer product.

The Labor Party will work to manage a sustainable water industry based on providing a comprehensive response for Israeli demand, including in the agriculture sector, on returning water to nature, and on the restoration of natural water systems including the coastal, Kinneret, and river aquifers.

The Labor Party will encourage savings in water usage, preventing leaks, runoff collection, reusing water and increasing grey water usage, especially in households.

The Labor Party will put an end to the privatization of the water industry in Israel, including the privatization of water corporations, the water supply system and desalination projects. The Labor Party will work to improve the quality and accessibility of drinking water and sewerage services provided to the general public.

The Labor Party will strive to ensure the existence of professional supervision of water fluoridation by the Ministry of Health, based on continued research and testing of the effect of this policy on public health.

 

Energy

The global energy crisis is one of the primary strategic challenges that Israel will deal with in coming years. The natural gas reserves recently discovered off the coast of Israel are highly valuable tools for the state in overcoming the difficulties of this expected crisis. Therefore, we must ensure that they will be utilized intelligently to strengthen the energy sector and Israeli economy for future generations.

The Labor Party will work to manage the sustainable energy industry in Israel by reducing energy usage, improving efficiency, and increasing the use of alternative energy sources, while promoting research and development in the field and strengthening local industry.

The Labor Party will work to boost Israel's energy efficiency by promoting intelligent usage of electricity in all sectors of the economy: industry, business, the public sector, and households.

The Labor Party will work to expand the integration of sustainable, renewable energy sources in the Israeli electricity generation system. It will accomplish this through legislation which will allow for the establishment of facilities to produce solar energy panels for the roofs of every building in Israel and by locating and utilizing land suitable for the establishment of solar power stations.

The Labor Party will work towards ending the privatization of electricity production, which degrades the quality of service to the public, raises the price of electricity, and harms the sector.

The Labor Party will work to promote and incentivize energy research in Israel, and will at the same time strive for the transition from the research stage to the implementation stage in order to create a leading export industry. The Labor Party will advance the establishment of a "smart" electricity grid in Israel, which will allow for both efficient and intelligent electricity usage, as well as wide-ranging integration of renewable energy sources.

 

National and natural resources

The land and sea and their minerals – water, natural gas reserves and Dead Sea minerals – belong to the general Israeli public. The Labor Party will work to ensure a just and fair division of usage of public natural resources, and strive to achieve environmental justice for every citizen and for future generations. The Labor Party will put forward legislation and policies to guarantee all citizens of Israel – not just the wealthy elite – enjoyment of the national natural resources.

 

Planning and development and protecting open spaces

“The people will not only be the founder [of the JNF], but also the owner of the actual property [the land] in perpetuity.  In this way, individuals will not be able to use the land for their own purposes in a way that does not fit with the intentions of the founders.  We need to make sure that also in the future this property will be kept in utmost faith, and will be used thriftily and fearfully, more than with force.” (Theodore Herzl, Address to the Fifth Zionist Congress, 1901).

“And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity;” (Leviticus 25:23)

 

The Land is one Israel's most vital resources. Land privatization, which has been pushed forward by the Netanyahu government, has turned this priceless public possession into yet another commodity for sale on the market. The Labor Party will work to reverse this dangerous maneuver, in favor of the previous system of long-term leases, and reinstate the Jewish National Fund as the steward of the land of the Jewish People. To this end, we will work to repeal the land exchange deal with the Israel Lands Authority, and change the bylaw of the JNF which allows it to exchange land for the purpose of sales.

The Labor Party will fight to protect Israel's open spaces for the good of the public. We will advance environmentally sustainable planning and development policy especially in the fields of transportation and land use.

The Labor Party will work to solidify the principles of the National Outline Plan in all plans for development. It will prioritize developing within the boundaries of existing communities over creating new ones or building in open spaces, while recognizing the importance of strengthening the urban fabric.

The Party will work for urban planning and development towards more walkable cities, better public transportation, green lungs within cities and between them, and mixed-use zoning. We will do this both in order to improve quality of life, as well as in the name of social and environmental responsibility. 

The Labor Party will oppose the proposed reforms to planning and construction in their current format. The Party will promote reforms in the field of licensing, together with strengthening the current national planning institutions and encouraging maximum participation of the public in the process. We will also work to integrate environmental representatives into the various levels of the planning system.

The Labor Party will oppose privatization of National Parks and National Heritage Sites.

 

Environmental values

The Labor Party will work to protect the Israeli landscape – its vistas, its natural treasures, its open spaces, and its diverse populations of flora and fauna. The Party will advance formal and informal education that raises the environmental consciousness of the next generation and promotes a deep love of and familiarity with our country.

 

Pollution and garbage

The Labor Party will work to enact economic incentives which promote sustainable behavior and hinder environmentally destructive behavior by means of a "green tax" on environmentally harmful products and services, a carbon tax, and economic and criminal penalties for non-compliant polluters. To this end, the Party will work to grant extensive authority and enforcement tools to local governments and national agencies. 

The Labor Party will work towards a significant reduction in air pollution levels which are caused by industry, vehicles, and power plants. We will also work to enact the National Plan to Reduce Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gasses.

The Labor Party will work to finally pass and enact the Polluted Lands Rehabilitation law.

The Labor Party will work to change recycling from voluntary to mandatory based on the principle of producer responsibility.  The Labor Party will work to establish waste sorting facilities in every municipality, government office building, and large business.

These steps will be enacted while ensuring that they will not harm employers or Israeli industry.

 

Animal rights

The strength and morality of a human society may also be measured by how it treats non-human animals.

The Labor Party will work to ensure the welfare of wild animals, pets, and livestock. The Party will work to prevent animal cruelty, harassment, and torture.

The Labor Party will achieve these ends by means of education and increased enforcement. 

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