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Knesset passes revised law for detention of African asylum seekers

The previous law was struck down by the High Court, which ordered the state to begin releasing the asylum seekers it was indefinitely detaining. Instead, the Knesset passed a law to circumvent the ruling and indefinitely detain asylum seekers in ‘open prisons.’

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

File photo of Israeli border police arresting African asylum seekers during an arrest sweep in south Tel Aviv. (Photo: Keren Manor/ Activestills.org)

After a passionate debate and a filibuster by opposition members of Knesset, the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law passed 30 to 15 early Tuesday morning. The new amendment, hurriedly drafted and passed by the governing coalition, will replace the 2012 amendment to the law, which was nixed by the High Court of Justice three months ago.

The previous amendment to the law permitted the detention of asylum seekers without trial for a three-year period in Israel’s Saharonim and Ktziot prisons. Under the new amendment, asylum seekers will be jailed for one year in the prisons, followed by additional indefinite detention in a specially constructed internment camp operated by the Israeli Prison Service.

Read +972′s special coverage of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel

Reports indicate that the new “Holot” Camp may become operational as soon as Thursday. Asylum seekers will have to sleep in the camp and be present at three roll calls per day to prevent them from venturing too far outside and gaining employment, which according to the government is the reason asylum seekers come to Israel.

The new law passed through three votes in the plenum, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and the Knesset Interior Committee in less than 90 days to ensure that the state can continue to detain the hundreds of asylum seekers jailed under the abrogated 2012 amendment. The High Court ruling gave the state 90 days to examine the individual cases of all detainees and release them. Instead, the state chose to spend that time drafting and passing the new legislation.

The more than 1,000 asylum seekers still detained under the previous amendment, however, are not the sole targets of the law. Under the new amendment, all asylum seekers can be placed in the internment camp that has the capacity to hold 3,300 detainees. Interior Ministry officials hope that the camp serves as a “revolving door” leading to the deportation of asylum seekers from Israel.

The ministry used the previous law to pressure detained asylum seekers into leaving: the detainees were threatened with indefinite detention, and told that the only way to get out of prison is to agree to deportation to their home countries.

This constant pressure by Interior Ministry officials and prison guards, coupled with a hefty financial incentive – until recently, each asylum seeker was given $1,500 in exchange for voluntary deportation; a recent government decision raised the sum to $3,500 – resulted in over 800 Sudanese and 14 Eritrean nationals agreeing to sign “voluntary leave” forms and be deported.

As the legislation was drafted hurriedly, much is still unknown about the way the Holot internment camp will operate. Unlike any other detention facility in Israel, it has no operational guidelines, and will not include the quasi-judicial review that exists in other facilities.

The camp in located next to the Egyptian border in the middle of an IDF firing zone. A four-meter fence is being erected around the camp and it is unclear where the detainees will be able to go between the three daily roll calls. What is clear, however, is that detainees will not be able to lead independent lives and will be provided with only basic medical and welfare services.

The new law also retains the harsh language granting release from the one-year prison stay only in extreme humanitarian cases. Under this article, the human rights NGO Hotline for Migrant Workers, was able to release women, children and a few survivors of the Sinai torture camps.

However, no such exception exists in the new law for detainees in the “open” internment camp. This means that while under the previous law torture survivors could be released in some cases after months of detention, and all would have been released after three years, under the new law, all asylum seekers, including torture survivors, can be detained indefinitely in the Holot camp.

In an interview with +972 Magazine, the executive director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Attorney Reut Michaeli, said she does not regret her organization’s role in petitioning the High Court against the previous incarnation of the law, which brought about its abrogation, despite her assertion that new law is “clearly worse” from a human rights perspective as it permits endless detention instead of three-year prison sentences.

“The previous law did not belong in Israel’s legal codex and neither does the new law,” Michaeli said. “If organizations whose role is to preserve Israel’s democracy give up on petitioning the courts, it means we are giving up on a significant aspect of the democratic struggle.”

The new law, intended to circumvent the High Court ruling, was met with criticism not just from human rights organizations; legal advisers for the Knesset and Public Security Ministry both doubted it would meet the criteria set out in the lengthy High Court of Justice ruling that struck down its previous incarnation.

In his legal opinion submitted to the Knesset’s Interior Committee, Knesset Legal Advisor Attorney Eyal Yinon cautioned that merely labeling the new facility “open” does not make it so. The restrictions placed on asylum seekers in the new internment camp, he added, render it too similar to a prison to meet the demands laid out in the High Court ruling. Yinon’s warnings about the law did not lead to any significant alterations during the rushed committee hearings.

According to Attorney Michaeli, the new law “ignores the High Court ruling and repeats the mistakes the state made the last time around. The state keeps offering only binary solutions, which the court rejected: either detention or complete neglect.”

Looking ahead to the next legal battle, she said, “We trust that the court values human liberty and just as it put the authorities in their place when in comes to detention for the purpose of deterrence [of future asylum seekers from coming into Israel], it will do the same in the future.”

What remains to be seen is whether the Supreme Court is empowered enough to twice strike down a law passed by the government, in an environment increasingly hostile to the court and its power to overturn laws it deems unconstitutional.

Elizabeth Tsurkov is a refugee rights activists in Israel.

Related:
Fact checking racist incitement against African refugees in Israel
A year in review: Anti-African racism and asylum seekers in Israel
Would Israel’s refugee policies stand up in… Nairobi? 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. If I understand this correctly (and it is a bit hard to believe I do, and that this is happening if so), 30 of 120 MK’s have decided to ignore the High Court, with only 15 other MK actually present in opposition. From the piece, it appears that the “Knesset’s” solution is to impose harsher conditions (indefinite vs 3 years) while arguing that “open detention,” where one must be present 3 times a day for roll calls, placed in a closed military area, is actually not a prison so does not fall under the prior High Court decision, this law passed against the advice, or at least warning, of their legal adviser. I’d say the conservatives have been telling people how to think for too long; it has gone to their national heads. It appears that a majority of the Knesset, by its absence, neither wants to touch this law nor accept the High Court’s verdict. Brave legislators.

      Great news! The Court now has a reason to apply judicial review (assert it as primary) and nullify this new amendment, while summarily closing the current prison, where, the piece says, the State has made no effort to sort detainees for release or review. The Knesset has hereby nullified the High Court as independent institution. I doubt a better case could be crafted for judicial fightback. Some High Court Justices have made hearing comments that they are tiring of indulging the State elsewhere. It is indeed time to stop.

      No judicial mind worth salt is going to accept the Knesset’s reasoning. Intellectual integrity will force independence, on this issue at any rate, and one must begin somewhere.

      Or so I hope and think.

      Reply to Comment
      • Adam Dayton

        When a Court fails to faithfully interpret and uphold laws as they were intended, then the court no longer becomes an independent democratic institution but an autonomous dictatorial element. The Israeli Supreme Court should be viewed no differently than Iran’s Supreme Leader, who also is “elected” in a rather circuitous fashion.

        When a Court begins drafting legislation, then the people and their representatives have the right to ignore the Courts.

        Reply to Comment
        • JG

          You really should seriously learn something about some jurisdical basics, such as what is a Supreme Court and what is his role.
          But I fear you won’t understand……

          Reply to Comment
        • Doives

          Shame on you for comparing the Israeli high court to the Ayayollahs in Iran. This same high court has prevented settlements from being built, has gone against the will of knesset numerous times. For typical leftists like you it just take one “incident” to say “see, I told you so”. Now go educate yourself.

          Come live in central Tel Aviv for a year and then see if you still think the same way. Israel, which already is a tiny country, is litereally being flooded with African immigrants. The numbers are much higher than the country can absorb. In addition, Israel doesn’t have the infrastructure to take care of those large amounts of African immigrants, so placing them in cities is not an option.

          If Western countries are so quick to judge, why not let them absorb all the immigrants? Just fly them to Europe and to the US. Let’s see if they’ll still be so arrogant on the matter.

          Reply to Comment
      • Greg, it’s definitely a good case for judicial fight back, the problem is that the Courts are very weak. The Israeli coalition has been subjugating the Court and threatening its independence for years, for example, by appointing the conservative Judge Grunis as the President of the Supreme Court even though he was second in seniority and shouldn’t have been chosen. The coalition does not believe in the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. Hence, it is doubtful whether the Court will feel strong enough to strike down a law clearly intended to bypass its previous ruling.

        Reply to Comment
        • Adam Dayton

          Elizabeth – the coalition doesn’t believe in separation of powers?!?!?!

          It’s the court that has taken it upon itself to issue legislative edicts; a job reserved for the legislature in a democracy.

          When the court respects the legislature by interpreting laws as the legislature intended them to be interpreted, then we can talk about whether the legislature is respecting the independence of the courts.

          Israel is a democracy in which the will of the people is actualized through their duly elected representatives. If you’re more comfortable with a non-elected body or institutions issuing edicts, I encourage you to take a look at Iran or Belarus. You might find their political systems are more akin to your beliefs.

          Reply to Comment
          • “When the court respects the legislature by interpreting laws as the legislature intended them to be interpreted, then we can talk about whether the legislature is respecting the independence of the courts.” : This would deny judicial review to the US Supreme Court as well, making Brown v Board of Education impossible, or any of the several First Amendment decisions striking down US law. Your logic is exactly that expoused

            Reply to Comment
          • that should have continued

            employed (not “expoused”) by the Jim Crow US South. As James Madison noted, rights cannot be protected by a majoritarian logic.

            Equating the Israeli High Court with the Iranian Supreme Leader is a bit of a stretch, although certainly in line with the propaganda times. Western Courts regularly exercise judicial review. A pure populist constitutionalism eventually bite backs just about everyone over time. Courts make mistakes, take positions one might not like, even reverse themselves; but without them populist whim can get out of control.

            I think this bizarre amendment, which enters 1984 and Kafka worlds, shows the true face of right national corporate logic–at least of those willing to actually place a vote on record.

            Reply to Comment
          • Adam Dayton

            I think you are stretching the meaning and intent of Judicial review. Judicial review does not mean that a court can strike down a law just because it feels like it.

            Judicial review does not mean that the Court functions as a benevolent supreme leader, striking down laws that it and others feel are immoral.

            I’d have to take a close look at Brown vs. Board of Ed., but yes, if a strong case cannot be made that the Court was acting in accordance with the law, the constitution and the intents behind, then I would say that the true foundations of Western Democracy would demand that separate but equal not have been overturned.

            Again, I cannot stress this enough: the function of a court is not to act as a benevolent supreme leader.

            Your arguments against populist whims are normative. While you may want courts to serve as a counter to it, that is not and has never been their officially sanctioned job.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Been reading a bit on the debate in Israel over whether to have a constitution or not. Basic conflict seems to be (unsolved since 1948) whether that constitution to be based on secular (objective and “blind”) law or halachic (Jewish and exclusive) law. This illustrates the inherent conflict in calling the state jewish AND democratic. In your opinion do you think one of them has won over the other so far?

            Reply to Comment
          • Average, don’t fall into the trap of equating “Jewish” with “religious.” At Israel’s founding, religious Jews were a distinct minority in politics; the active polity was overall secular socialist. What is happening right now is a fight within Judaism over what the State is, and the suicide bombings of 2000-6 have made that fight very lopsided.

            Where a constitution and the courts are placed in this fight is rather straightforward, although for some reason rarely discussed, as far as I can tell. Israel was formed via partition of Palestine by the young UN. The UK handed the future of Palestine to the UN, which means that the UN here did create a State in law. UN resolution required proto-Israel to affirm a Declaration of Independence preserving certain rights, or, rather, the equal protection of social and political rights across sex, race, ethnicity, and religion. Ben Gurion and others argued this was the best chance Israel had for recognition, so advocated that a Constituent Assembly be called to draft such a Declaration. It was so, with the Declaration promising that another Assembly would be called to write a constitution–also required by the UN enabling resolution.

            This Assembly was duly formed–but it did not write a constitution. Instead, it transformed itself into the Knesset, saying the constitution would be written piecemeal along with other legislative acts. This piecemeal constitution is called, in sum, the Basic Laws, and has yet to be completed. Since the Knesset is implicitly an all powerful constitutional assembly, however, there is no reason to expect future Knessets to adhere to past Basic Law; they could change it at their whim. Somewhat, what is happening with this prison amendment is exactly that, indirectly bypassing Basic Law as read by the Court via a sweeping redefintion of what a prison is.

            A Constitutional Assembly is not a legislature. The former is called to limit the power of the latter, among other things. So for the Assembly to transform itself into a legislature, as in the Knesset, is to usurp constitutional sovereignty. This is Israel’s long term constitutional crisis. The Knesset can be a legislature or constitutional assembly, but not both.

            Now, Israel’s Declaration of Independence promises to the UN, to receive the partition, a constitution preserving certain rights through equal protection. This makes the Declaration more than a usual Independence Declaration–it makes it a meta-constitutional document, stipulating what ANY Israeli constitution must contain, and I suspect this is unique in Western jurisprudence. The High Court, then, must have judicial review to enforce conformity with the Declaration. Judicial review is implicit in that document. The Knesset cannot annul that review without annulling as well its own existence, for the Knesset comes out of the Declaration as the (usurped) Constituent Assembly. Contrary to Adam, above, the Knesset doesn’t appear out of nowhere as omnipotent People. It is, rather, a entity violating its enabling document, the Declaration.

            To affirm this in the High Court would take courage. It would not be done as a matter of international law, that is, what the UN said so long ago, but as a matter of Israel’s self affirmed law at creation. Until this is done, I see episodes like the present redefinition of “prison” as inevitable. The Court has been ignored in other cases as well, or has kowtowed to the State rather than take a principled stand on its own place in the constitution. I have for awhile now thought that the best case for such a stand would be some Knesset absurdity. This prison amendment fits that in spades. Whether the Court will find its courage only it can say.

            Once again, don’t be confounded by religious views and secular constitutional law. The Declaration also includes a Jewish right of return (as in the Law of Return), so in my view this right of return forever makes Israel the Jewish homeland. But the same Declaration includes protections for all Israeli citizens and beyond, actually. The “Jewish or democratic frame” is wrong. So is a “Jewish and democratic” frame with Jewish trumping democratic. The right of return makes Israel Jewish; the Declaration as well, however, makes Israel a rights preserving State. The promise of the Declaration still awaits realization.

            Elizabeth, sorry for using all this space; I have been thinking on this for some time.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Thanks Greg for explanation. Interesting.

            I agree the definition of the non-prison appears a thinly-veiled subterfuge.

            I will also risk saying that for the government to resort to subterfuge and absurd definitions in this matter suggests that it has and will continue to do so in other matters, apparently under the umbrella that all things are permissible when implementing a certain ideology. That approach in turn generates distrust of the government.

            Reply to Comment
          • Adam, under your reasoning the US Bill of Rights would have no motivation nor function. In the present case, the High Court opinion pinned itself on the Knesset passed Basic Laws (which, by the way, is a pretty weak way to frame judicial review). The present Knesset simply ignored this, instead trying to redefine “prison” by claiming that on “open area” in which one must report for roll call 3 times a day, the area surrounded by closed military space into which one may not enter, is not a prison. It’s inane. Your comments show no understanding of the past case or present amendment. In fact, under your own terms, not mine, this new amendment would count as violative of Israeli Law–unless you think the all potent Knesset can simply redefine prison away, not remove them, but say the word now means something else.

            I suppose the logic of rights protection is normative. Again, as James Madison said during the constitutional convention, a right without a remedy is no right, this phrase actually going back to the British jurist Blackstone. Majoritarian democracy cannot preserve rights, as the West has shown time and again. Your position boils down to the view that rights exist only at the whim of the majority, which indeed is what the Israeli national right seems to think. In the US, neither Justices Thomas nor Scalia would uphold this view.

            I often do not like where the US Supreme Court goes, but do not thereby argue that they have not the power to go there (there is, however, one time when the Court actually said a prior Supreme Court had acted unconstitutionally).

            Brown v Board is a rather short decision. You can easily find it on the web. You can also thus find some of the famous First Amendment cases. I know the present right Israeli environment is focused on Iran, but, really, the US Supreme Court as Supreme Leader, let alone the Israeli High Court? Ultimately you will leave even Jews defenseless in their own State.

            Reply to Comment
          • Adam Dayton

            I believe we have a misunderstanding here. I am not, of course, arguing that a country be subjected to the pure whims of the majority. But I am also suggesting that it not be subject to the whims of the judiciary. A country shouldn’t be subject to whims period, which is why there are foundational laws either enshrined in the Constitution or in Israel’s case a basic law.

            I believe that a court must interpret all laws, including foundational laws, in deference to the fundamental intent of the law in addition to its clear language.

            A Constitution and/or basic laws are useless if anytime a court doesn’t like it, it gets creative with the language.

            Fundamental laws are to serve as a protection against whims of both the majority and the courts. This is why legislation rests exclusively with the legislature. The court’s job is to determine whether something corresponds to the law as it is, not as the court wishes it were.

            Israel’s high court has routinely shown a disregard for both the intent of various aspects of Israel’s basic law and general legislation.

            When a court does so, it should be seen no differently than Iran’s Supreme Leader or King George. Western democracy rests on the notion edicts should not be passed by those unaccountable to the people, something that the high court has routinely done.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Basic Laws are quite majoritarian, requiring only an absolute majority of the Knesset to change in their own terms. But why should an omnipotent Knesset be chained to the edicts of a past Knesset even in this limited way? If the Knesset is sovereign, any sitting majority, absolute or not, can alter Basic Law. The logic of Basic Law is internally flawed. Fundamental intent doesn’t apply if one Knesset can override a previous one, which surely it can if uniquely sovereign. If not, how does one check the Knesset? Only the courts remain.

            On the case at hand, the Knesset tries to skirt the Court decision by redefining “prison” in a absurd way: required to be present 3 times a day for roll calls, surrounded by a closed military area, does not, its says, constitute a prison, so the Court decision does not apply. If by “interpret” you mean precise application of language as used previously, the Court can indeed turn back this amendment on your own terms. What the Knesset did not do is alter the Basic Law, or charge it has been misread. So your sovereign entity again fails its duty on your terms.

            I have, in my note to Average, above, provided an originalist interpretation of Israeli constitutionalism and the place of the Knesset therein. I do not think the High Court is the usurper here, but rather the false sovereign populist Knesset. And, in any case, a cursory look at the High Court post Barak shows a paper tiger. The Refuge Detention Camp decision is the first clear step away from this subordination, although the Citizenship Law case, decided 7-6, was razor close to independence.

            Finally, on original intent, words may be employed for several ends, and a clause of a Basic Law or constitution may be approved by a majority not actually, internally, all holding the same end in mind. Original intent rests on the fiction that a voting majority is of one mind in application; quite often, however, majority coalitions require ambiguity of future application to form. Judicial interpretation has to reconcile this ambiguity under social and cultural change. Generality of language, used both to form a majority coalition and retain open ended application to the future, basically insures the need for such interpretation.

            In Plessy v Ferguson (1896) the US Supreme Court said not only that separate but equal is fine, but that equal is realized and that the States, in any case, should decide if that is so. In Brown v Board (1952) the Court reversed, saying schooling was obviously not equal by race. What happened here is that a different application of equal was used, one I suspect some in Congress approving the 14th Amendment had in mind, but an application lost after the post Civil War retraction of Reconstruction. To say one view of “equal” was original(ist), the other not, is just opportune. And that is an example of why judicial review is important and necessary.

            Reply to Comment
          • Adam Dayton

            First and foremost, I believe the only absurd redefinition of the word prison is coming from you. You’re more than welcome to find me one instance in the history of the world and in any language in which the term prison has been used to apply to the proposed system at hand.

            The term “prison” is quite well-defined. Just because you may not like the way a word is defined and has always been used, it doesn’t mean that you can bind people to your new interpretation. How far do you want to take it? Maybe I should start calling apples oranges.

            “required to be present 3 times a day for roll calls, surrounded by a closed military area” if anything is more akin to a halfway house than a prison.

            I maintain that the basic law was never intended to apply to illegal infiltrators. You’re welcome to provide me evidence that those framing the basic law intended for it to be interpreted so broadly.

            You are correct to the extent that in theory, Israel is built upon parliamentary supremacy. From there you ask who else is to check the parliament other than the courts. Even if the parliament acts in a majoritarian fashion, however, at least it is acting with a democratically elected mandate. This is far better than unelected, unaccountable judges playing the role of wise supreme leader, acting without concern or care for the will of the majority of the people. If this is what you support, then why have a parliament in the first place? Let’s just leave governing to the wise supreme body and call it a day.

            Your assertion that Court’s are tasked with interpreting laws in reference to “cultural and social change” is unsupported, unless of course you can provide evidence that those constructing the duties of the court intended this as such. There is no way to escape the matter of intent.

            You make the nature of language, especially as applied to law, seem far more vague and general than it actually is. There are numerous ways to determine what those drafting the laws actually meant. One way to do it is to look at the actual practice immediately following and in the years after the passage of the law. Clearly, if the legislators intended a Brown vs. Board of Ed interpretation of the word “equal” then we surely would have seen either it’s application as such or the vehement opposition of the legislators to the misapplication of the law. With ths in mind, we have every reason to believe that Plessy v Ferguson accurately reflected the intent of the law.

            Let me remind you that if we take your position to its fullest extent, then there is nothing stopping a Court from interpreting laws, based on changing social and cultural circumstances, in the exact opposite direction of what you deem to be the appropriate interpretation today. If a Court can distort a law in one direction, why can’t it distort a law in the other direction. For example, the protection from an unreasonable search and seizure? Who’s to say today’s definition of “unreasonable” won’t be viewed differently tomorrow in such a way that a full on cavity search in the middle of the road for no good reason is deemed to no longer fall under the category of “unreasonable.”

            Yes, this is the logical consequence of your position. You cannot dispute this without referring to either a) an inherent meaning to the word “unreasonable” and/or b) the intent of those who used the term.

            Reply to Comment
          • Well, let’s see…
            1) Surrounded by a closed military area one cannot enter, unable to thereby travel anywhere or see anyone not already in the “halfway house,” forced as well to duly appear 3 times a day to insure you are NOT transversing the military zone–this is not an open air prison but “halfway house.” Sort of like telling someone they can vote if they can pass a literacy test (some of them in the US were pretty amazing), or pay the poll toll. A prison regulates behavior absent liberty of oversight or movement. In a halfway house you can be gone all day, can abscond, actually; not here, for there is nowhere to go. And, in any case, in law, when prisoners are put in halfway houses well, they are still prisoners.

            2) Judges are appointed and can be impeached. They are not some sort of Supreme Council that cannot be touched. What the Knesset is doing now, if fact, is picking new Justices, usually in compromise with others, that share national right views.

            3) The Knesset was not supposed to be supreme. The Declaration of Independence promises a constitutional democracy. The apparent supremacy you see has been usurped.

            4) Israel signed the convention on refugees. It says clearly that refugees, once accepted, must be allowed the same free movement as citizens. The High Court earlier refused to allow the State to summarily deport “illegal infiltrators” without the hearing promised by the convention which Israel signed. The State has for some reason refused such hearings–I suspect because they would be under judicial review. Instead, the Knesset decides to build a, well, not prison, but detention center. The High Court has said this violates Basic Law and must be dismantled after three months–about now, in fact. So now we have halfway houses one cannot leave which are not detention centers, let alone prisons, and so dodge the Court decision.

            5) Under your view all the Knesset has to do is alter Basic Law, which would destroy the very ground the Court uses in its decision. Instead, we have the closed military surrounded halfway house one cannot leave even for a minute. Which is not a detention center. Or camp. Or anything else. It is a cowardly act on the part of the MK’s (just alter the Basic Law oh supreme ones!), with only 30 voting to this end.

            6) You’ve missed the point of Plessy. At the time of the 14th Amendment, some Congressmen and indeed State legislators ratifying undoubtedly thought “equal” would reach segregation. What the Supreme Court did is what you warn of–just redefining things for present political ends. This can always happen. The Court also affirmed the detention of Japanese Americans in WW II. But, in the case of Plessy, the Court reversed itself years later. No, neither legislature nor court is immune from politics. The point is to have more than one player so as to make regress more difficult. There are no guarantees. Of course, if you believe the people are an abstract entity, then maybe the Knesset will always be “right.” I do not believe “people” should be reified.

            7. Use at time of ratification will not work globally, for use changes with application, and words can have more than one application even upon first ratification, as with “equal.” Radical Republican Congressmen during Reconstruction wanted to insure that freed slaves had weapons to protect themselves from a hostile population. These Republicans, who voted for the 14th Amendment, certainly had a broad sense of “equal.” Legislative debate and so intent is much more messy than you admit.

            8. Interpretative processes can indeed reverse themselves; Plessy to Brown is a good case. It looks like your Knesset is trying to reverse itself right now; or 30 members are. But rights tend to act as a ratchet; once affirmed, it is difficult to reverse them, although it can happen. If you think rights cannot be limited among Jews, I think you sadly mistaken. Jurisprudence itself is a gamble.

            9) If Basic Law uses “individual” or “person” rather than “citizen,” the interpretation stands. Again, I note that the Knesset 30 had not argued otherwise, instead entertaining a new theory of halfway houses beyond all prior conception of State coercion to the person.

            10) Your Declaration of Independence promises a Constitution. The Knesset lied on that. Because of social, cultural, and political process of the day. It is time to admit the lie and deal with it. Basic law is not a constitution; a constitutional assembly is not a legislature, nor conversely. They are distinct, and the same group cannot claim to limit itself by putting on one hat, then take it off and become a humble legislature. It is a farce, one which the Declaration implicitly admits up front by calling for a constituent assembly to write a constitution. Until you correct this early lie, you will be living a web of lies. The Court could begin this path by holding that the Declaration is a meta-constitutional document.

            But that is not going to happen right now, and is very far from halfway houses without inmates where no one can leave for any reason.

            Reply to Comment
          • adam dayton

            Just a clarification – I am of the understanding that they are allowed to leave the detention center with the provision that they return 3 times a day for roll call. On what points are you disagreeing?

            Reply to Comment
        • I wasn’t aware that Grunis wasn’t the most senior at appointment; but one would want to know if the senior Justice deferred, coerced or not. In the case at hand, Grunis voted to nullify the prior detention law. I know he is quite conservative, but I think that vote indicated even conservative Justices can take a stand against unconstitutional law, although I know you do not have a formal constitution–which is part of the problem.

          As I said, this new amendment is about as good as it gets for the Court to assert principled judicial review. That doesn’t mean the Court will take the challenge, I understand. But one has to hope and start somewhere, sometime.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Pamela

      Shocking that Israel with its unique history would recreate detention camps based on race- yr govt no better than Australia where we banish asylum seekers to the ” pacific Solution” in offshore locked camps under guard. The tortured and children no exemption.
      What is next in the deterrence regime? Extermination?

      Reply to Comment
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