Supreme Court to hear petition against Israeli government's continued imposition of emergency coronavirus regulations

Adalah-Joint List petition contends Israeli government decrees violate Israeli constitutional law; expanded panel of five justices slated to hear case tomorrow (Thursday) at 11:30 AM.

An expanded panel of five Israeli Supreme Court justices will convene at 11:30 A.M tomorrow (Thursday), 7 May 2020, to hear the petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Joint List against the Israeli government’s continued imposition of emergency coronavirus regulations.


The petition filed on 5 April 2020 by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara and Adalah General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen asks the Supreme Court to rule that the imposition of emergency coronavirus regulations is a violation of Articles 38 and 39 of Israel’s Basic Law: The Government (2001).


Adalah and the Joint List also demand that the Supreme Court rule that the government – via its continued imposition of these emergency regulations – is exceeding the limits of its authority and that the Knesset must be involved in legislating  laws related to coronavirus issues.


Israel has been in an official “state of emergency” since 1948. However, as Adalah argues, this state of emergency applies to national security and cannot be relied upon for the imposition of scores of emergency regulations now related to the coronavirus health crisis. The Israeli government has imposed – during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic – more emergency regulations than at any other time in Israel’s history.


On 6 April 2020, the day after Adalah and the Joint List filed the petition, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referencing the petition and stating that "the government's failure to approve pending bills and bring them to the Knesset could have serious consequences for the government's response to the coronavirus."


In addition to this petition, Adalah has filed three other petitions against emergency regulations imposed during the coronavirus crisis that violated fundamental rights. These petitions were against the Shin Bet's cellular tracking and surveillance of coronavirus patients and people who came in contact with them, against the prevention of prisoners' visits with families and lawyers, and against employers’ dismissals of pregnant women without a special permit from the Israeli Labor Ministry.


These three petitions also argue that, in addition to constituting a disproportionate violation of constitutional rights, the above noted emergency regulations were imposed without any legal authority and must therefore be repealed.


In the petition, Adalah and the Joint List stress that the government’s imposition of emergency regulations prevents Knesset members from representing the interests of their constituents via the legislative process. The 15 Joint List Knesset members, for example, do not participate in the government’s imposition of coronavirus-related emergency regulations, which are of key importance to all citizens and residents in the State of Israel.


Adalah commented:


"A transitional Israeli government – operating without a mandate and without any legal authority – is implementing dozens of draconian emergency regulations without any discussion and without transparency. The imposition of emergency regulations, while there exists an active, elected parliament, runs contrary to the most basic principles of separation of powers and severely harms the rule of law.”


Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh commented:


"Under cover of the coronavirus epidemic, a transitional Israeli government with no public mandate has carried out the most severe hijacking of the executive authority seen in recent years. COVID-19 will pass, but the dangerous precedent set by the government's destructive conduct cannot remain. This is a blatant violation of the democratic principles that are supposed to protect the citizen from the government and the granting of unprecedented power to those who were not even elected to govern."


CLICK HERE to read the petition [Hebrew]



(Photo: Israel Tourism/Wikimedia Commons)