The legal counsel for the Israel State Archives has published a draft bill amending the Access Regulations. The draft proposes extending the Restricted Access Period on archival materials produced by certain security agencies, including the General Security Service, the Mossad and others. The proposal seeks to replace the current 70-year restricted access period with a 90-year period.
The restricted access period on materials originating in security agencies listed in Schedule 2 of The Access Regulations was extended from 50 to 70 years in 2010. At the time, in return for extending the restricted access period, intelligence agencies agreed to prepare a protocol on declassification of archival materials that are at least 50 years old. At least some of these agencies did in fact establish protocols, but these were never made public and in practice, materials originating in agencies listed in Schedule 2 of The Access Regulations are not made accessible to the public. Now, these security agencies seek to further extend the restricted access period applicable to archival materials related to them as a blanket measure and without distinguishing between materials whose declassification poses a material threat to protected interests and ones whose exposure gives no cause for concern.
In this context, it is important to note that the Access Regulations themselves, as well as case law, instruct that the restricted access period does not mean keeping archival material confidential. According to the regulations, members of the public may demand the declassification of archival records even before their restricted access period has expired, especially when they are historically important or required for research purposes.
The public may submit its comments on The Access Regulations Amendment Bill until October 28, 2018.