The government approved Sunday a motion calling for the establishment of a biometric database by the Ministry of Interior and the Public Security Ministry.
The motion, dubbed the "identification card, travel papers and biometrics database bill," will now be referred back to the various Knesset committees, which would ready it for its Knesset votes.
The new bill called for embedding biometric data, such as fingerprints and computerized tags of facial features, in Israeli IDs and passports; as well as for the establishment of a database which would include biometric data on all Israeli citizens.
The data would be used by the Ministry of Interior in its future plans to create "smart", forgery-proof identification papers and passports; and would also allow authorities to identify people who are not carrying any means of identification, especially in cases of a mass disaster, should the need to identify fatalities arise.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter told the government that the "need to create a unique (physical) bond between the person carrying an ID and the data which appears on it, is essential in order to fight the worldwide forgeries… Should we succeed we would be able to create a nationwide database controlled, as it should be, by the State."
'Database detrimental to civil rights'
The motion was carried despite the fierce objections of ministers who claim creating a biometrics database would be detrimental to civil rights, such as the right to privacy.
The Israeli Bar Association sent Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann a letter to that effect last week, in which it asked him to postpone the decision on the bill, pending the Bar's further studying of the subject.
"Forming such a database would harm the citizens' basic right to privacy," read the letter; adding that such a database would be at constant risk of being hacked into by hostile elements, and would make "potential criminals out of every law-abiding citizen."
The existence of such a database – which includes every citizen – has yet to be sanctioned in any Western country, added the Bar. The Israeli Association for the Protection of Privacy and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel have also expressed their objection to the bill.
Erez Ronen contributed to this report