The Knesset Committee for Education, Culture and Sports approved Thursday three regulations of the motor-sports law, opening the way for applying the law – a process that began in 2005.
The regulations effectively make motor sports legal in Israel, though before the first legal races may be held, the committee must publish the amendments, which could take up to a month. It is expected that the first races will be held in three months.
Yossi Nissan, head of the Culture and Sport Ministry's sport driving authority, said to Ynet that the regulations change Israel's standing. "We have become a state like all other states in the western world regarding motor sports," he said.
Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) expressed his satisfaction that the long process of approval had come to an end. "Motor sport enthusiasts have waited for this moment for a long time," he said.
Drivers can warm their engines up... (Photo: Paz Bar)
However, it must be noted that Israel is the only western state in which motor races require special legislation. Throughout the West, such races are held under internationally agreed rules, without the need for intervention from government ministries. Israeli motor sport figures say the law may make it hard for races to be held – both for drivers and for organizers.
When the Knesset originally approved the law in December 2005, the government was given nine months to prepare the regulations enabling the law to be applied, in which eight ministries were involved. However, many setbacks, mostly due to inter-ministerial rivalry and bureaucratic problems meant the process of approval by the Committee for Education, Culture and Sports began only in 2008.
Bureaucratic and convoluted
Motor races have been held in Israel in the past. Competitions were held regularly in the eighties, the most well known in Ashkelon. Disputes between drivers led to the races being discontinued, then declared illegal.
In 2000 and 2001, drivers petitioned the High Court to enable races to be held, but a private member's bill was proposed to allow racing, which was used by the government to avoid the petition. This bill eventually became the motor sports bill.
Figures in the field welcomed the end of the legislative process, but warned that the law may make racing a complicated activity in Israel. Tal Shavit, journalist and long-time motor sportsman, said, "The solution… is the most bureaucratic and convoluted possible. The fact that it took so long to write the law and regulations shows how complex this solution really is."
Shavit added that the approval of the regulations will not necessarily lead to races in the near future. "We are not in a position to easily hold races," he said. "For organizers, it is hard to conform to these regulations… Furthermore, the regulations make the sport more expensive, and will hurt amateur enthusiasts."