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Israel: Knesset Adopts Law to Prevent Distribution and Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction

(May 24, 2018) On March 7, 2018, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) passed the Prevention of Distribution and Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction Law, 5778-2018 (the Law). The Law declares its objective as the prevention of the distribution and financing of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and includes among the means to accomplish this the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on persons that distribute and fund WMD or assist in doing so. (Prevention of Distribution and Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction Law, 5778-2018 § 1, SEFER HAHUKIM (SH, BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette) 5778 No. 2699 p. 232, Knesset website (in Hebrew).)

According to the Law’s explanatory notes, the Law intends to introduce procedures to implement UNSC resolutions in a manner that would meet relevant international standards. (Prevention of Distribution and Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction or Means for Its Sustaining Government Draft Bill, 5778-2018, GOVERNMENT BILLS 5778 No. 1186 p. 214, Knesset website (in Hebrew).)

Procedures for Adoption of UNSC Declaration

The Law defines a “foreign element” that may be subject to sanctions as one of the following: an individual who is not an Israeli citizen or a resident, a group of persons whose center of activity is not in Israel, or, in the case of a corporation, one that is not registered in Israel and is not controlled by an Israeli resident. (Law § 2.)

The Law requires that a UNSC declaration identifying a foreign element or nonstate organization acting in a foreign state as assisting in the distribution or funding of WMDs be published in Reshumot (Israel’s general official gazette) within 14 days after the UNSC publishes its declaration on the UN Sanctions Headquarters’ website. (Id. § 3(a)(2).)

The declaration’s validity in Israel is effective for a period of four months from its publication unless the Minister of the Treasury has determined whether to issue a decree stating that the foreign element is assisting in the dissemination and funding of WMDs. (Id. § 3(a).) The declaration may be cancelled by the Minister following a cancellation of the UNSC declaration or for other reasons. (Law § 3(c).)

The Minister is to publish a list of foreign elements subject to sanctions on the website of the Israeli “Sanctions Headquarters,” which was established under the Law on the Struggle Against Iran’s Nuclear Program, 5772-2012. (Id.; Law on the Struggle Against Iran’s Nuclear Program, 5772-2012, § 3(d), SH No. 2377 p. 634 (in Hebrew), also available on the Knesset website. For an English summary of the original legislation, see Ruth Levush, Israel: Embargo on Providers of Support for Iran’s Program of Weapons of Mass Destruction, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (August 30, 2012).)

Treasury Minister’s Declaration Following a Declaration by an Authorized Foreign Body

The Minister may on reasonable grounds and after consultation with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defense name in the published declaration a foreign element that has been declared by an authorized foreign body as acting or assisting in dissemination and funding of WMDs. (Law § 4(a).) The declaration is to be cancelled by a decree upon cancellation of the foreign declaration or upon finding another ground for the cancellation. (Id. § 2(b).)

Consequences of Being Designated a Supporter of WMD Dissemination and Funding

The Law prohibits dealing with a foreign body named in a declaration except upon the Treasury Minister’s authorization issued after considering the position of the Israeli Sanctions Headquarters and in accordance with UNSC directives as posted on its internet site, or for another reason. (Id. § 5(a–b).)

The Treasury Minister’s authorization may be issued for either a specific or a general type of economic activity and may be subject to conditions. The authorization must be published in Reshumot and on the internet site of the Sanctions Headquarters. (Id. § 5(c).) The Law imposes a duty on any person who was engaged in business dealings with a foreign element on the date of the latter being named in the declaration to report to the Sanctions Headquarters and immediately cease dealings with that foreign element. (Id. § 5(d).) The Law further empowers the Treasury Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Israel to require financial institutions to demand and record identification of recipients of services and of types of transactions performed in accordance with the Prohibition of Money Laundering Law, 5760-2000. (Id. § 8; Prohibition of Money Laundering Law, 5760-2000, SH 5760 No. 1753 p. 293).)

Declaration Procedures

Issuing a declaration regarding the status of a foreign element as supporting the dissemination and financing of WMDs requires prior publication of a notice of intent on the internet site of the Sanctions Headquarters and by other means as determined by the Treasury Minister. Such a notice is not necessary if prior notice of a temporary adoption of a UNSC declaration has been published on the internet site of the Sanctions Headquarters. (Law § 9.)

A person alleging harm resulting from a declaration may submit a request to the Treasury Minister via the Sanctions Headquarters to prevent publication of the declaration. The request must be submitted in writing within 45 days of the publication of intent to make the declaration and include documentation. The Treasury Minister is to issue a decision on the request to prevent the issue of the declaration within 45 days of the date of its filing. (Id. § 10.) A request to cancel a declaration can also be filed. A decision on such a request must be made within 60 days of its filing or from the date on which information requested by the Treasury Minister has been provided. (Id. § 11.)

Enforcement and Penalties

The Law imposes imprisonment of nine years or heavy fines on any person who assists a foreign state or a nonstate organization operating within its territory in developing, producing, disseminating, or funding WMDs, including by sale; transfer of goods, technology or information; or provision of services, including financial or logistical, thereby contributing to the development, production, or funding of WMDs. (Id. § 13.)

Conducting business with a foreign element subject to a declaration in violation of a permit’s conditions is punishable by three years’ imprisonment or a fine. (Id. § 14.) Noncompliance with reporting requirements is punishable by one year of imprisonment or a fine. (Id. § 15.) The Law subjects corporate position holders to penalties for failing to prevent the commission of offenses by the corporation and its employees. (Id. § 16.)

The Law provides seizure and forfeiture authority in connection with property related to offenses and authorizes the Minister of Justice to issue regulations for further implementation. (Id. §§ 17–21.)