Human Rights Law in Israel
How Israel's legal system protects human rights and basic freedoms
Extracts courtesy of: zionism-israel.com
All citizens of Israel - regardless of their race, religion or sex - enjoy equal human rights and protection under the law. This principle dates to the founding document of modern Israel, the May 1948 Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. This declaration of independence proclaimed that the State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political and human rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Declaration maintains its influence as a guiding principle in the interpretation of laws. Its centrality was acknowledged in the1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty,(link to next section) which explicitly provides that the human rights included in the law shall be interpreted "in the spirit of the principles in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel."
Soon after the founding of the State, the Knesset began to enact a series of basic laws relating to all aspects of life. As well as the basic laws outlining the primary features of government, additional laws have been passed which deal with fundamental rights, such as the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
In the absence of a formal bill of rights, Israel's judiciary has played a key role in the protection of civil liberties and the rule of law. In addition to the Basic Laws, a body of case law has developed over the years that protects civil liberties and Israel Human Rights. Equality, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are but a few of the basic rights that are considered fundamental values by Israel's legal system. Israel's constitutional system is based on two fundamental tenets: that the State is democratic and that it is also Jewish. There is no contradiction between the two.
Beyond its contribution to case law, the Supreme Court has another unique function. In its capacity as a High Court of Justice and acting as the court of first and last instance, the Supreme Court hears petitions brought by individuals appealing for redress against a government body or agent. This means that any individual living in Israel or the territories, can appeal directly to the highest court in the land, and request immediate assistance if they believe their rights are being violated by any government body or by the armed forces. These petitions play an important role in guaranteeing individual human rights for both Israeli citizens and Palestinians.
Israel's judicial system - first and foremost the Supreme Court, the watchdog of Israel's democracy - has played a vital role in ensuring that all Israelis, Jewish and Arab, enjoy the same level of protection of their human rights and civil liberties as citizens of other Western democracies.
These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.
Israel’s Basic Law Regarding Human Rights
The law was enacted on the final days of the 12th Knesset, March 17, 1992.
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty
Purpose 1. The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Preservation of life, body and dignity 2. There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.
Protection of property 3. There shall be no violation of the property of a person.
Protection of life, body and dignity 4. All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity.
Personal liberty 5. There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.
Leaving and entering Israel 6. (a) All persons are free to leave Israel.
(b) Every Israel national has the right of entry into Israel from abroad.
Privacy 7. (a) All persons have the right to privacy and to intimacy.
(b) There shall be no entry into the private premises of a person who has not consented thereto.
(c) No search shall be conducted on the private premises of a person, nor in the body or personal effects.
(d) There shall be no violation of the confidentiality of conversation, or of the writings or records of a person.
Violation of rights 8. There shall be no violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required.
Reservation regarding security forces 9. There shall be no restriction of rights under this Basic Law held by persons serving in the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police, the Prisons Service and other security organizations of the State, nor shall such rights be subject to conditions, except by virtue of a law, or by regulation enacted by virtue of a law, and to an extent no greater than is required by the nature and character of the service.
Validity of laws 10. This Basic Law shall not affect the validity of any law (din) in force prior to the commencement of the Basic Law.
Application 11. All governmental authorities are bound to respect the rights under this Basic Law.
Stability 12. This Basic Law cannot be varied, suspended or made subject to conditions by emergency regulations; notwithstanding, when a state of emergency exists, by virtue of a declaration under section 9 of the Law and Administration Ordinance, 5708-1948, emergency regulations may be enacted by virtue of said section to deny or restrict rights under this Basic Law, provided the denial or restriction shall be for a proper purpose and for a period and extent no greater than is required.
* Passed by the Knesset on the 12th Adar Bet, 5752 (17th March, 1992) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 1391 of the 20th Adar Bet, 5752 (25th March, 1992); the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok, No. 2086 of 5752, p. 60.
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty - Amendment*
In the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (5752 - 1992):
Amendment of section 1 (1) Section 1 shall be designated 1(a) and shall be preceded by the following section:
Basic principles 1. Fundamental human rights in Israel are founded upon recognition of the value of the human being, the sanctity of human life, and the principle that all persons are free; these rights shall be upheld in the spirit of the principles set forth in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.
(2) At the end of section 8, the following shall be added:
"or by regulation enacted by virtue of express authorization in such law."
* Passed by the Knesset on 12 Adar 5752 (17th March 1992) and amended on 21 Adar, 5754 (9th March, 1994). Amended law published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 1454 of the 27th Adar 5754 (10th March, 1994), p. 90; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 2250 of 5754, p. 289.
The Association for Human Rights in Israel™
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