high court panel citizenship law 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Legal experts told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that they were optimistic the
High Court of Justice would rule to repeal the controversial Boycott Law, which
passed in Knesset Tuesday by a 47- 38 majority.
RELATED:Leftist groups unite to stop Knesset boycott bill
Just hours after the
controversial new law was passed, a petition calling for it to be overturned was
presented to the High Court. Judges ordered the state to respond within 60
Knesset c'tee approves bill outlawing boycotts on Israel
Professor Eli Saltzberger, a Supreme Court expert from Haifa
University, said that while it is hard to predict the outcome, there is a good
chance the High Court will declare the law unconstitutional and repeal
"In fact, that is what should happen, because the law harms freedom
of expression,” Saltzberger said.
The Boycott Law gives Israeli citizens,
institutions and companies targeted by boycotts or even calls for boycotts on
grounds of their location – which in practice means Jewish settlements in Judea,
Samaria and the Golan Heights – the right to seek compensation in court for
Under the law, an entertainment center in Ariel, for example,
could sue Israeli actors who decided to boycott performances there or who called
for others to participate in such a boycott.
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Attorney General Yehuda
Weinstein, who admitted the law has serious constitutional problems, has already
recommended that Knesset make amendments to reduce the its infringement on basic
Yet despite this, Weinstein announced Tuesday evening
his decision to defend the law in the High Court.
Saltzberger noted that
there are precedents for Weinstein to have refused to defend the
"There have been cases in the past where the attorney general has
refused to defend laws in the High Court and on those occasions the government
has had to appoint a private attorney,” said Saltzberger.
said he did not expect Weinstein’s defense of the law to be particularly
"He has already said the law is problematic,” he
Despite sharing Saltzberger’s cautious optimism over the chances
of High Court judges repealing the Boycott Law, Professor Suzie Navot, an
constitutional law expert from the Haim Striks School of Law, emphasized that
the High Court does not take the act of abrogating laws lightly.
important to note that abrogation by the Supreme Court is not a trivial matter,
and the court exercises this power with caution, restraint and moderation,”
According to Navot, in the past 15 years the Supreme Court
has overturned fewer than ten laws.
Among those that the court has
repealed recently include a law to privatize the country’s prisons, which was
declared unconstitutional by a panel of nine judges in 2009.
the Supreme Court struck down a law that would have allowed longer detentions
and trials in absentia of those charged with security offenses against the
In both cases the court ruled that the laws violated basic
However, the Boycott Law is the first law that the High Court has
been asked to overturn that is concerned specifically with issues of freedom of
Navot said that judges will be faced with the question of to
what extent the Boycott Law will harm freedom of expression even if it does
prevent boycotts that damage settlements.
"Freedom of expression is
recognized in Israel as one of the fundamental human freedoms, and has a very
The [Boycott] law restricts the right to protest, and
also violates the principle of equality,” Navon said.
"Even if the law
has a fitting purpose, such as those who proposed the law say, and it does
prevent damage caused by boycotts imposed on settlements, the question still
remains whether harm to freedom of expression in these circumstances is
justified, and whether it is proportionate.
This is what the High Court
will need to answer.” In a related move that sent further shockwaves through the
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