Following repeated Adalah demands, Israeli Welfare Minister appoints new National Food Security Council Chairperson

The Council has been inactive, in violation of the law. According to official data, 42% of Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer from food insecurity. Adalah demands significant Palestinian representation in the Council.

Over the last two years, Adalah has fought for the implementation of the 2011 law establishing a National Food Security Council and for the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs (MWSA) to ensure that the Council is fully constituted and functional. Recently, the Ministry appointed Prof. Roni Strier as Council chairperson and announced that the chairperson was working towards appointing an Arab expert as the council’s deputy and would adhere to the principle of adequate representation in appointing council members.


In 2011, Israel’s Knesset passed the "National Council for Food Security Law." The 2011 law prescribes that the Council shall have an advisory function to the MWSA among others on matters of food security policy, enforcement, supervision and control. According to the 2011 law, the MWSA shall appoint Council members, provide the Council with all services required for its functioning and provide for its budget.


In 2019, Adalah sought information concerning the Council’s functioning, and only  several months later, Adalah received information that revealed blatant disregard for the letter and spirit of the 2011 National Council for Food Security Law. The Council had only ever functioned to date, and only to a limited degree, on a voluntary basis. On 24 October 2019, Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi wrote to the MWSA and the Council’s chairperson, the late Prof. Dov Chernichovsky, detailing faults in the implementation of the 2011 law and urging the Ministry to exercise its authority as required by the law to take all necessary and possible measures to ensure full and effective Council functioning.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter of 24 October 2019 [Hebrew]


In its letters, Adalah emphasized that the right to adequate food is a universal human right that stands at the core of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Indeed, it is entrenched in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food.…"


In 2019 the appointment of council members expired and the Ministry did not renew the appointment procedure. In January 2021 Chairperson Prof. Dov Chernichovsky passed away and the Council ceased to exist altogether. Adalah sent several follow up letters to the Ministry over the course of a year and a half and on 4 October 2021, Attorney Shehadeh-Zoabi met with Ministry staff members to promote reconstituting and reviving the Council.


On 23 January 2022, the Ministry informed Adalah that it appointed Prof. Roni Strier as Council chairperson. Adalah sent the Ministry a letter welcoming the appointment of the new chairperson on 14 February 2022 and requesting that the Ministry, in adherence with the principle of adequate representation, ensure that a significant number of Arab experts will be appointed to the Council. According to the 2020 Poverty and Social Gaps Report, published by the National Insurance Institute of Israel, 16.2% of families suffer from food insecurity among Israel’s overall population, yet among the Arab population within Israel, 42.4% of families suffer from food insecurity. This data confirms the importance of, and requirement for, adequate Palestinian citizen of Israel representation in the Council.


Recently, The Times of Israel received a response from the Ministry noting that the chairperson was working towards appointing an Arab expert as the council’s deputy and that it “believes in adequate representation of all sectors of Israeli society and will act accordingly”. The Ministry additionally pointed out that the council is working towards amending the 2011 Law so it would include a section guaranteeing adequate representation.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter of 14 February 2022 [Hebrew]


Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi added:


“The Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs failed to fulfill its legal duty with respect to the National Food Security Council for more than a decade. It is unacceptable that an institution targeting the vital cause of food security promotion has been rendered non-functional for such a long period. We welcome the appointment of Prof. Strier as chairperson and encourage the Ministry to appoint remaining Council members, as well as to properly budget and provide the Council with all tools necessary to fulfill its role without further delay. At the same time, we request that the Ministry ensure adequate representation of Arab society in the Council to ensure that demonstrated needs among the Arab population are addressed adequately, as well as promptly, and that solutions appropriate to the community are provided. This is especially urgent given that nearly half of Israel’s Arab society suffers from food insecurity.”