Adalah to Attorney General: Order police to stop arresting citizens for raising Palestinian flag

Between 2011 and 2015, police arrested 96 citizens of Israel suspected of waving Palestinian flag; indictments were filed in 45 cases. Nothing in Israeli law forbids flying Palestinian flag.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel on 26 September 2016 asked Israeli Attorney General (AG) Avichai Mandelblit to issue an order to the State Attorney and Israel Police to refrain from arresting and indicting citizens and residents of Israel for raising the Palestinian flag.


According to Israeli police statistics provided to The Movement for Freedom of Information, police arrested 96 Israeli citizens on suspicion of waving the Palestinian flag between 2011 and 2015. Indictments were filed in 45 of these cases (47%).


In his letter to the AG, Adalah Attorney Mohammad Bassam stressed that there is no legal directive forbidding the raising of the Palestinian flag.


Palestinian citizens of Israel wave the Palestinian flag during a protest in the city of Jaffa. (Photo by Mati Milstein)


"The Palestinian flag is not the flag of a terrorist organization. It is recognized and flies at the United Nations as the official flag of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and there is nothing on the law books forbidding one to fly it. The High Court of Justice likewise does not see the Palestinian flag as symbolizing a terror organization or as a symbol of support for terrorism. The Supreme Court permitted a number of Arab parties to broadcast television election campaign ads in which images of the Palestinian flag appeared. Given that the Supreme Court has ruled the Palestinian flag may appear in election campaign broadcasts as an aspect of freedom of speech, there is no justification in placing limitations on the flag on the basis that it harms public sentiment."


Adalah also emphasized that the AG and Police Commissioner have already ruled that there is no legal obstacle to raise or fly the Palestinian flag.


The AG's position filed within the framework of Supreme Court case HCJ 5883/93 makes clear that, in light of the development of ties between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the wake of the Oslo agreement and of the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, there is no public interest in enforcing the ban on flying the flag. Furthermore, then-Israel Police Commissioner Rafi Peled was quoted in a court ruling as stating that, "in the wake of the peace agreement, the PLO does not constitute a terror organization and the raising of the PLO flag therefore does not constitute a crime."


Adalah Attorney Bassam argued that, "the above positions clarify that arrests and indictments of citizens for raising the Palestinian flag stand in opposition to the law. This was further reinforced once the Palestinian Authority was granted non-member observer status at the United Nations and the flag is today recognized not as the PLO flag but rather as the Palestinian or the PA flag."


Adalah demands the Israeli AG issue an order forbidding the arrest and trying of citizens and residents who raise or fly the Palestinian flag.

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