Challenging Travel Ban Imposed on Literary Critic and Journalist Antwan Shalhat

HCJ 841/06, Antwan Shalhat et al. v. The Minister of the Interior

Petition submitted to Supreme Court in 1/06, challenging a 12-month travel ban imposed by the Interior Minister in 12/05 on renowned Israeli journalist and literary critic, Antwan Shalhat. Adalah also demanded that the Court order the Interior Minister to use his authority to impose travel bans only when there is a near certainty that a citizen's travel will harm state security. The petition argued that one's right to leave the country is a constitutional right, enumerated in Article 6 of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and is also protected under Article 12 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Israel has ratified. Adalah further contended that the Interior Minister lacks the official authority to impose a travel ban in this case as Mr. Shalhat had no plans to leave Israel. Moreover, the Minister issued the order based on secret evidence without first granting Mr. Shalhat an opportunity to challenge the order, violating his right to due process. The Interior Minister responded to the petition in 2/06, repeating his arguments in favor of the travel ban. On the same day, Adalah submitted a request for an urgent hearing to the Court.

At a hearing in 3/06, Adalah presented its arguments to the Supreme Court and emphasized that the strength of the evidence against Mr. Shalhat is questionable, particularly since he was not summoned for investigation or interrogation by authorities before the travel ban was issued. The Court excluded Adalah from a closed meeting between representatives of the state and the GSS, after which Chief Justice Aharon Barak, apparently submitting to the dictates of the GSS, recommended that the petition be withdrawn. Adalah withdrew the petition in order to avoid a Court decision approving the GSS's secret materials, a ruling which would cause further harm to Mr. Shalhat. Adalah remarked after the hearing that the GSS's unrelenting arbitrariness and illegal control over the Arab minority in Israel, which operate in opposition to the truth and the rule of law, is unacceptable.

Update: In 1/07, the Interior Minister extended the ban until 9/07, arguing that the GSS's information is credible and cannot be revealed to Mr. Shalhat for security reasons.

H.C. 841/06, Antwan Shalhat et al. v. The Minister of the Interior (petition withdrawn)