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Normal, Abnormal State: The Eighth Decade of the State of Emergency In Israel

Conference Summary

As the State of Israel enters the eighth decade of the “state of emergency”, and 20 years after the submission of a petition to revoke it, a conference was held by the Israel Democracy Institute in cooperation with the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa, focusing on the security and social implications of the fact that over the past decade, the state of emergency has become a matter of course. 

"The state of emergency that exists today in Israel endangers the security of the country. There is no comparison between the security threats that existed 20 years ago and those that exist today, we are a seeing things through the same prism.” said Roni Alsheikh former Commissioner of the Israel Police. “Israel should be gearing up for threats that are completely different from those of previous decades. And today there is no longer any possibility of obtaining a diplomatic achievement following a military. "

Dr. Yossi Beilin, former Minister of Justice: "The state of emergency gives the government frightening powers. Only the fact that no government has implemented them so far alleviates the severity. My generation should not leave the next generation with the possibility that draconian tools could be used that do not exist in any democracy in the world. In addition, there are entire bureaucracies that took advantage of the emergency laws over the years, and to untangle them now is almost impossible. "

Attorney Dan Yakir, Legal Advisor for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel: "The amendment to the Civil Defense Law in the Home Front determines what a "special emergency situation” is.This clarifies that everyone knows that the state of emergency is actually a fiction.”

Prof. Yuval Shany, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institute, on the administrative detentions: "The UN Human Rights Committee has determined that any individual being accused has the right to know what he or she is being accused of, something very relevant to Israel. When Israel appears before the committee, the latter’s criticism focuses mainly on the scope of the use of detentions, the periods of detention, and the ex parte hearings. "

Attorney Gal Azriel, Ministry of Justice: "The time has come to cancel the state of emergency, but this is not a simple act. A great deal of f legislation depends on this state of emergency, and its annulment would require the involvement of many players. When the concept of the state of emergency was defined at the end of the 1990s, there were more than 200 supervision orders and nearly 20 different laws, most of which were related to security needs. Today, we have reached a situation in which there are only 23 supervision orders and 9 laws. "

Attorney Idan Ben-Yitzhak, legal advisory staff of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: "No one in the Knesset thinks there is any justification for the state of emergency. Thanks to the steps initiated by the Ministry of Justice and the petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the process of separating the legislation from the regulations is moving forward, and these efforts are bearing fruit. "

Prof. Amichai Cohen, Director, The Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy at the Israel Democracy Institute: "The fact that there is no deadline for the annulment of the emergency regulations allows the government to drag its feet in conducting the discussions. If the deadline had already been set, we would have been at a point at which a decision would have had to been made, even if the government might not like such a decision."

Attorney Liana Blumenfeld-Megged, Ministry of Justice: "The government does not like the use of administrative detention, so we try to use it with restraint However, the intensity and complexity of security concerns put Israel in an exceptional situation as compared with other countries, which requires the use of this tool. Annulling the state of emergency justifies a more balanced arrangement, but does not allow for the total elimination of this tool. "

Former GSS investigator Dr. Moshe Bachar: "It is difficult to provide empirical proof of the effectiveness of administrative detentions, and it is clear that this tool is highly problematic, but it is perceived as a tool with the capacity to limit terror, as was proven during waves of terror." 

Attorney Lea Tsemel, legal representative to administrative detainees: "It is preferable that we be in a state of emergency, even on the level of a declaration, but it is inacceptable t to make it a pistol that can be drawn over and over again, without any need to justify such a violation of human rights.