By Gush Shalom – 18 May 2010
Gush Shalom wrote to the Minister of the Interior – and considers a Supreme Court appeal – demanding clear and transparent criteria for who shall be denied entry into the country and for what arguments. “Such decisions cannot be left to anonymous officials and security operatives, who become a thought police and censor political opinions.”
On behalf of Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc), Adv. Gabi Laski wrote to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, demanding that he issue regulations with clear criteria on who is to be denied entry into Israel and why. This followed the ban on the entry into Israel (and to the Occupied Territories) of the American linguist Prof. Noam Chomsky – considered among the most important thinkers in the world. There were also many other recent cases of foreign citizens denied entry, such as Spanish clown Ivan Prado. In none of these cases was an explanation or reason offered, beyond unspecified “security reasons”.
There are ample grounds for suspicion that the real reason was the political views and activities of those denied entry – which is not a legitimate argument for the government of a country which boasts of being “the only democracy in the Middle East.” The ongoing trend of unreasonably and unjustifiably preventing the entry of many people into Israel and the Palestinian territories creates the impression that anyone who criticizes Israel has a reason to worry of being denied entry. This causes great damage to democratic discourse and to freedom of movement, with Interior Ministry officials becoming a kind of “Thought Police” (and incidentally severely damaging the State of Israel’s international standing).
Such acts also clearly manifest the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, which goes on unabated even in times of negotiations and “proximity talks”. The State of Israel arrogates to itself the right to determine who would and who would not visit the Palestinians – in Chomsky’s case, who would be allowed to lecture at a Palestinian university and who would not.
In the letter Att. Lasky reminds that according to Article 14 of the Entry into Israel Law, from which the Minister of the Interior derives the authority to “remove” people who arrive at the country’s borders, also obliges the minister to make regulations specifying what categories of people would be forbidden an entry visa or a residence permit. However, the current minister, like his predecessors, avoided making such regulations, leaving the issue to the arbitrary decisions of unnamed officials at the Interior Ministry itself, working with operatives of the Shabak Security Service, who hold secret deliberations and reach secret decisions, without publishing the decision itself or its reasons.
This denial of the principles of public transparency and good governance impairs the possibility of subjecting executive decisions to judicial review. Typically, people who are denied entry into Israel or the Occupied Territories hear about it for the first time when arriving at the Israeli passport control, and are often held in detention for several days and finally expelled from the country, without being given any reason or explanation other than unspecified “security reasons”.
In her letter to the minister, Att. Laski Court’s quotes Supreme Court rulings clearly stating that the making of this kind of regulations is not left to a minister’s discretion, but is an absolute obligation. The regulations must be published in the Official Gazette and define criteria fitting with the principles public transparency and public control over governmental decisions. Failure to make such regulations is an unreasonable conduct on the part of the government, justifying judicial intervention.
Given the above, Adv. Laski asked Interior Minister Yishai to act in accordance with Article 14 of the Entry into Israel Law, and publish regulations specifying the categories of people who would be denied a visa or residence permit, as well as specifying the reasons for such a denial of entry. Absent a satisfactory answer from the minister, Gush Shalom will consider petitioning the Supreme Court.
Adv. Gaby Laski 054-4418988 Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson 054-2340749
MORE on Israel barring Noam Chomsky’s entry to the West Bank