Following Israeli Supreme Court ruling: MK Yousef Jabareen, Adalah to request additional hearing on petition against ban on Knesset members’ visits to Palestinian prisoners

Ban stipulates only specific Knesset members authorized by Israel’s internal security minister may visit Palestinian ‘security prisoners’; ban violates MKs' immunity and parliamentary rights.

Following the 14 July 2020 Israeli Supreme Court ruling on the petition filed by Knesset Member Dr. Yousef Jabareen (on behalf of the Joint List) and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel against the sweeping ban on visitations by MKs to Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in  Israeli prisons, Adalah and MK Jabareen have announced that they will demand an additional hearing.


In the 14 July 2020 decision, each justice had a different ruling. One voted to dismiss the petition, rejecting our legal arguments; another justice voted to delete the petition, noting that recent suggested changes required the submission of a new petition; and the third justice ruled that an order nisi ("order to show cause") should be issued, as the petition raises important constitutional issues regarding the rights of parliamentarians.


In light of this split, the petitioners announced that they intend to demand an additional hearing before an expanded panel of justices of the Israeli Supreme Court.


The petition was filed by Adalah attorneys Dr. Hassan Jabareen and Muna Haddad in 2017, after MK Jabareen was barred from meeting with Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, during a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.


The ban, which initially prohibited all visits, later stipulated that only specific Knesset members authorized by Israel’s internal security minister are permitted to visit Palestinian prisoners classified by the IPS as security prisoners. The petition maintains that the ban violates Knesset members' immunity and parliamentary rights, and their ability to carry out legitimate political activities, including parliamentary scrutiny of IPS activities.


In its preliminary response before the Court, the Knesset's Legal Advisor supported the argument that this ban harmed the work of Knesset members.


In January 2019, the respondents presented new guidelines to the Supreme Court, according to which one representative from each parliamentary faction would be given the opportunity to submit a visitation request to the IPS who, subject to approval, would be able to meet with prisoners under strict supervision. Adalah and MK Jabareen stressed that the proposed new guidelines would not guarantee MKs the opportunity to fulfill their parliamentary role.


In May 2020, Adalah and MK Jabareen filed a motion for an injunction that would allow MK Dr. Jabareen to visit the prisoners, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related Emergency Regulations that ban visits by lawyers and family members to the prisons. The court did not issue any decision on this request.


Knesset Member Dr. Yousef Jabareen responded to the 14 July 2020 ruling:


"Visiting political prisoners is part of our parliamentary responsibility monitoring the human rights of Palestinian prisoners. This is particularly true when it comes to prisoners held in administrative detention, minors, and those held under poor conditions. This unfortunate decision to continue to prevent MKs from visiting prisoners deals a fatal blow to us as elected public officials and to our parliamentary immunity. We will  therefore  request an additional hearing before an expanded Supreme Court panel."


Adalah responded to the ruling:


"This is an extreme ruling that harms the separation of powers by depriving Knesset members of the possibility of fulfilling their duty to conduct oversight of the government and its actions, without discussing the substance of the allegations and without clarifying the issues arising from the petition. Given the various positions of the three justices – and the disregard for the important issues raised by the petition – we will demand an additional hearing before the Supreme Court. "


CLICK HERE to read the court ruling [Hebrew]

CLICK HERE to read the petition [Hebrew]


Case Citation: HCJ 4252/17, MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen v. The Knesset, et. al.



(Photo: IPS/Facebook)