Mks: Laws taking away Israelis' liberties

Knesset human rights caucus lists 14 bills in progress which could curb citizens' freedoms.

hadash mk dov henin 248 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
hadash mk dov henin 248
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
The Knesset human rights caucus has warned that the freedoms of Israeli citizens suffered a setback in 2007 thanks to laws that parliament either legislated or passed in interim reading on the way to final approval. The caucus, which is headed by MKs Dov Henin (Hadash), Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and Colette Avital (Labor), published a list of laws and bills approved this year which allegedly violated human rights to mark the Knesset's annual Human Rights Day. "I am very concerned about the legislative situation with regard to human rights," Henin told The Jerusalem Post. "The government does very little to protect human rights but hastens to present legislation that harms them." The list compiled by the caucus included a total of 14 pieces of legislation, including three which have already been approved and a fourth which the Knesset is certain to pass before the end of the month. Another 10 bills are in the Knesset pipeline. The four laws that have already been passed or are about to be passed include the following:
  • Criminal Procedures Law (Detention of Security Suspect) (Provisional Law) which allows the state to hold a security suspect for 96 hours without seeing a judge and for 21 days without seeing a judge more than once. It also allows the state to prevent the suspect from seeing a lawyer for 50 days.
  • Criminal Procedures Law (Enforcement Powers; Communications Information) which allows the police to access to the data bases of the land and cellular phone companies to save lives and fight crime. While the police generally require a court order to obtain the information, in emergency cases they can demand it without a court order.
  • Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Provisional Law) bars Palestinian men under 35 and women under 25 from living with their Israeli spouses in Israel. The law has no provision for studying individual cases other than exceptional humanitarian ones. The provisional law was extended in 2007 to include citizens of enemy countries.
  • Population Registry Law (Disclosing Information to a Body Operating According to the Law) allows the Interior Ministry to disclose information to private and public institutions without informing the public that it has done so. In some cases, the institutions are given direct computer access to the Population Registry. Among the bills currently advancing through the legislative process, one is an amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem that would grant the municipality the power to prohibit parades and marches in the city if it decides they threaten public order or harm public sensibilities, or for religious reasons. Another bill restricts access to Internet sites displaying pornography, violence or gambling to adults and also makes it necessary for the adults to identify themselves in order to access these sites. A much talked about bill declares that land owned by the Jewish National Fund will be allocated to Jews only. Another initiative calls for regarding anyone who visits an Arab country without permission from the Ministry of Interior as having expressed support for the armed struggle against Israel and therefore ineligible to run for the Knesset. A similar bill calls for expelling any MK who denies Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. Another bill would require anyone seeking Israeli citizenship to take a loyalty oath in which he pledges to be faithful to Israel as a Jewish, democratic and Zionist state and to serve in the army or an alternative framework. It provides for stripping the citizenship of anyone who received it after pledging his oath, if that person fails to serve in the army. Henin said those responsible for the legislation give three reasons for these injuries to human rights - security, economic efficiency and the war against corruption. But even when the reasons are justified, the laws are not proportional and cause greater harm than good, said Henin.