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Israel: Establishment of Museum for Knesset

(July 23, 2010) On July 6, 2010, Israel's Knesset (Parliament) passed a law to establish a museum for the Knesset in Jerusalem, in the building that had housed the first five Knessets from 1950 to 1966, before the parliamentary body moved to its current location. According to explanatory notes of the bill, several significant historical decisions and events took place in the old building, including the passage by the Knesset of some of the first basic laws of Israel.

The Knesset Museum Law lists among its objectives the goal of preservation and maintenance of the historical building and the transformation of its basement into a museum for a display of the history of the Knesset and its activities. The Law establishes a consultative committee to provide advice to the Knesset Chairman on operating and managing the museum and its budget and on handling the building restoration process.

The Law provides that the real estate property where the former Knesset operated has national and historic significance in the life of the state and its people and therefore belongs to the state clear of any impediment. It further directs the Minister of the Treasury to make an announcement requiring the transfer of possession of the property to the state free of any persons or objects and to remove such persons or objects in the absence of compliance. The Law specifies that owners of property rights in connection with the real estate on which the Knesset's former residence was located will be compensated by the state for relinquishment of their rights. (The Knesset Museum Law, 5770-2010, SEFER HAHUKIM [the official gazette], Knesset website, (last visited July 20, 2010); the bill, 312 HATSAOT HOK 122 (Mar. 8, 2010),