A blatant blow to transparency is looming over Israel as the government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu drafts legislation aimed at curtailing the right to information – an indispensable cornerstone of a free society, rights groups say. The controversial law, if passed, threatens to blindfold journalists and the Israeli citizenry, hindering them from delving into their government’s management of one of the nation’s most important events in recent history.

Respect for the freedom of information reflects a government’s commitment towards upholding democratic values. In clever parlance, it is the lifeblood of an informed, enlightened public sphere capable of holding power accountable. Therefore, Netanyahu’s move to shroud the government activities in secrecy is a disconcerting nod towards censorship.

The Freedom of Information Law mandates Israeli public bodies to reply to information requests within 30 days. They can delay their response by an additional 30 days without justification and up to two more months if they provide a reason. However, following a recent Justice Ministry directive, decisions by government agencies due after the war began on October 7 will be deferred by seven months, encompassing freedom of information inquiries.

The new legislation, touted by critics as an attempt to suppress free speech and accurate reporting, reinforces the urgency required to defend transparency.

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Iron Will

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