Adalah, MK Jabareen continue to fight Israeli ban on MKs visiting 'security prisoners'

Knesset, Israel Prison Service, and Public Security Ministry issue responses to Supreme Court petition demanding MKs be allowed to visit Palestinians classified as 'security prisoners.'

An Israeli Supreme Court petition submitted by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Knesset Member Yousef Jabareen calling on Israel to end the ban on Knesset members visiting Palestinians classified as "security prisoners" has elicited responses from the various Israeli state authorities involved in this case.


Adalah responded on 12 February 2018 to additional responses submitted to the Supreme Court by the Knesset, the Israel Prison Service (IPS), and the Public Security Ministry. The Supreme Court petition, filed by Adalah and Knesset Member Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) on 24 May 2017, seeks to overturn a decision made by the Knesset Committee and the IPS director to impose the blanket ban on MK visits to "security prisoners" held in Israeli prisons.


Adalah and MK Jabareen also demanded that he be permitted to meet with Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti.


In response to the petition, the Knesset claimed that decisions made by the plenum and the Knesset Committee are not binding. The Knesset’s response also said that MKs must be allowed to visit prisoners.


Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad argued in her response that, "the Knesset's response strengthens the petitioners' position that prison visits fall within the legitimate political roles performed by Knesset members."


Despite the Knesset's statements that MKs must be allowed to visit prisoners, the IPS and the Public Security Ministry nevertheless claimed that prisons are not open to the public and, therefore, MKs do not have the right to freedom of movement or entry into prisons.


Attorney Haddad wrote in response to the IPS and the Public Security Ministry that prisons are in their nature open to members of the public who do indeed have a right to enter prisons, including: attorneys visiting clients, families visiting prisoners, Knesset members visiting other incarcerated persons, and Knesset members who – until the imposition of this ban – visited "security prisoners."


According to Attorney Haddad, the IPS and the Public Security Ministry ignored the fact that the blanket ban relates to the identity of the prisoner rather than the right to enter prisons: "Our issue is not the prevention of entry into prisons or access to them, but rather the prevention of Knesset members from meeting with inmates classified as 'security prisoners'."


Adalah demands that the Supreme Court issue an order nisi and direct the state to explain why it will not allow MKs to visit Palestinians classified as "security prisoners" and to set a date for a hearing on the petition.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's response [Hebrew]


(Photo courtesy MK Yousef Jabareen’s Facebook page)