Knesset Roundup | December 17


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A Renewed Appeal Against the Renewed Anti-Infiltration Law


ACRI’s Position: On Tuesday 10 December, the Knesset passed a law designed to circumvent September’s High Court of Justice ruling, in which the Court overturned the original “Anti-Infiltration” law. The central change in the new law, is that the detention center where the asylum seekers can now be indefinitely detained is labeled “an open facility” – this despite being run by the Israel Prison Service, requiring attendance at three compulsory head-counts each day, and possessing other prison-like characteristics.
On Sunday, ACRI, together with other human rights organizations, submitted an expedited petition to the High Court of Justice seeking the invalidation of the new amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law and the granting of an interim order against the transfer of additional asylum seekers to the “open” facility. The central argument in the new petition is that the new amendment does not meet the principles set forth by the High Court of Justice in their recent judgment on this matter, and in fact represents an even more egregious violation of human rights than the previous policy.
For more detailed information on the new petition, click here.
The original court decision that overturned the Anti-Infiltration law also ordered the release of the 1,708 asylum seekers held at the time at the Saharonim facility within a period of 90 days. The State decided to interpret “release” as “releasing detainees to the open facility”, and so transferred those that still remained at Saharonim to the new facility. As the “open” facility does allow for detainees to leave (so long as they return for the next head-count), approximately 150 asylum seekers decided yesterday to walk away from the open facility, and began marching the 92.4km to Jerusalem.
You can view here a video of this impromptu march and demonstration, that is taking place at this moment.

Once Again: A New Law to Limit Foreign Donations to Non-Profit Organizations


Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs

Sunday, 15/12/2013 | Determining the Government’s Position


ACRI’s Position: On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs approved (8 in favor, 4 against) a bill that would tax donations from foreign state entities to certain Israeli NGOs who implicitly or explicitly support certain actions such as: calling for boycotts, divestment or sanctions against Israel, calling for the prosecution of Israeli soldiers at international tribunals, etc.

This bill is the most recent incarnation of an ongoing campaign in recent years to limit international funding to various causes disliked by the government. Similar bills that have been initiated by Members of Knesset in recent years have been unsuccessful.

ACRI has sent a concise position paper to the ministerial committee, clearly articulating how the bill infringes upon free speech and is inconsistent with basic democratic principles.
In addition, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has expressed that this bill violates a series of constitutional rights and that the ‘tax penalty’ is:
“a kind of punitive measure, which aims to create a ‘chilling effect’ and prevent donations to organizations, thus harming free discourse in Israel, which is one of the key democratic anchors of the state.”

It is unfortunate and alarming that we must reiterate the principles of a democratic system of government. The existence of democracy, and a flourishing democracy in particular, requires that freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the freedom to public criticize and protest be protected. This is necessary with regards to all opinions and attitudes, even those not to the liking of everyone.

From here, the bill will move to the Knesset floor for a preliminary reading, before appearing again for further discussion before the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs, as per the request of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Uncertainty Regarding the Future of the Begin/Prawer Plan


Bill for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013

Interior Affairs and Environment Committee

Sunday, 17/1/2013 | Committee Discussion


ACRI’s Position: The last few days has seen a number of contradictory announcements made by government officials and Members of Knesset. As such, it is unclear exactly how the State will proceed with regards to the Bill for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.
At the end of last week, it appeared following direct statements by former minister Benny Begin that the bill would be temporarily set aside.
This understanding was reinforced by the head of the coalition, MK Yariv Levin, who announced that the plan had lost its majority support in the coalition, that it should undergo vast changes and that it would not be presented before the Knesset in the coming months.
However, on Monday morning, Chairwoman of the Knesset’s Interior Affairs and Environment Committee MK Miri Regev, announced that the government would continue to advance the legislation, or at least parts of it, and that former minister Begin would no longer be involved.
Doron Almog, Head of executing the government policy with regards to Bedouin land ownership and development, similarly announced today that he is continuing with the implementation of the Begin/Prawer plan along two separate tracks: the settlement of land-ownership claims, and the development of recognized Bedouin villages.
For more information on the Begin/Prawer plan and ACRI’s efforts to confront this injustice, click here.

In the Spotlight:


Ynet Op-Ed – Thieves, go home!

Monday, December 10


“You, who govern us, how is it possible that basic human rights have become a luxury? How is it possible that we have people without rights alongside people with privileges? How could you privatize, with the thrust of a knife, Israel’s welfare services? How is it possible that housing prices in Israel are among the most exaggerated in the world? How could you rob public housing from thousands of people in desperate need of a home?
You, who govern us, you better know: Neither borders nor land are the most important thing. The individual is the essence of every proper society – that is how we have been educated from time immemorial, and that is how we have educated our children as well. While you, who govern us, have robbed and abandoned the individual.
You, who govern us, have brought the State to shameful places in the indices of social justice and citizen welfare among the world’s civilized countries. You have created a society of money-sucking parasites on the one hand, and of poor people who can’t make ends meet on the other hand.
A government which works to evict its citizens from their lands and homes, a government which jails children in the heart of the desert, a government which strives to undermine the High Court of Justice, a government which engages day and night in obsessive intimidation against the Iranian threat, and a government whose economic policy violates the basic right of its citizens to live in dignity, is not only unnecessary, but is also harmful.”
“We citizens will not keep quiet as long as you continue ruling us in crooked ways, wickedly, cynically, using intimidation systems. We citizens will not keep quiet until we rid ourselves of your burden, a burden with not a drop of compassion or justice.
Author Sami Michael serves as the president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)”


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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

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