Civil Administration response to Gisha’s petition demonstrates failure to fulfill undertaking to publish all operating procedures
The website of the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, this morning. The operating procedures have still not been brought up to date over the past six months.
About a year ago, Gisha filed a petition calling for the publication of all Civil Administration operating procedures (AP 68189-12-14 Gisha v. the Civil Administration in the West Bank). In the context of this petition, the Civil Administration pledged to publish all operating procedures of public importance or interest, some 80 operating procedures, in Hebrew and Arabic, in four batches, ending in September 2015.
In practice, the Civil Administration has not fulfilled a single one of its commitments. Only one batch of procedures was published – behind schedule – on the website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Two other batches were sent to Gisha by fax. The final batch, which was meant to include 20-25 operating procedures and was due in mid-September 2015, has not been published at all. During a court hearing on November 29, 2015, legal counsel for the Civil Administration said (Hebrew) two more months would be needed to publish these operating procedures.
Altogether, only 39 of the 80 operating procedures which the Civil Administration pledged to publish have undergone any kind of staff work – and only 15 of the 39 have been posted on the COGAT website. The rest were faxed to Gisha, an action which does not constitute “publication” according to the law. The operating procedures which were sent to Gisha are available here.
Furthermore, in the Civil Administration’s written response to the court and in the hearing itself, state counsel and lawyers from the Military Advocate General’s Corps argued that the technical error in the COGAT website (which has caused it to be inactive since June) had been repaired “some time ago”, the site became active again and all the operating procedures have since been posted on it. This, however, is incorrect as a quick glance at the COGAT website (Hebrew) proves.
The Civil Administration’s conduct is a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act and of its legal undertakings. Nevertheless, the court did not order the Civil Administration to correct the flaws immediately. With the court’s encouragement, the parties agreed that the operating procedures which have already been updated would be posted on the COGAT website within 30 days of the hearing, and at the same time, the Civil Administration would continue to update the remaining operating procedures within the next two months.
Gisha will continue to monitor the publication of the operating procedures and whether or not the Civil Administration meets the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.