Daily Israel Report

Rights Group: Wallerstein's Civil Disobedience Call is Legit

The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) says that a recent call for civil disobedience against the "disengagement" is legitimate, and plans to fight for freedom of speech for those making that call.
First Publish: 1/18/2005, 2:50 PM / Last Update: 1/17/2005, 10:08 PM

Atty. Dan Yakir, the organization's legal counsel, told Arutz-7 on Monday that representatives of the group took part in the Knesset Law Committee's deliberations on the Evacuation/Compensation law – and that they protested against the clauses that restrict protestors' rights.

One of the clauses in the proposed bill forbids demonstrators from interfering with the proposed eviction of Jewish residents from the communities. Those who violate this clause would be subject to three- or five-year prison terms, according to the current version of the law - though these clauses are likely to be changed, according to Knesset Law Committee members.

Atty. Yakir said that the organization objects to several clauses in the proposed law. Among them is that which stipulates that property that remains in the evacuated area and is not removed by its owners will automatically become State property. "This is a grave clause," Yakir said, "that unjustly impinges on a citizen's rights to his property. People who do not want to or who cannot remove their property should not be considered as if they had relinquished it."

Yakir also said that ACRI objects to "draconian orders" forbidding people to enter the area. "We will take action to make sure that these clauses are not implemented," he said.

"The disengagement plan is a controversial one," Yakir explained, "and as such, freedom of speech must be allowed to the maximum extent. Law enforcement agencies must display tolerance of various expressions." He said that the "red line" that must not be crossed is a call that is liable to lead to violence or to public disorder.

Yakir said that Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss' call, "in the midst of a specific police operation, for soldiers or police to refuse orders, went beyond the borders of legitimate freedom of expression... But Pinchas Wallerstein's general call to refuse to adhere to the Disengagement Law [in the knowledge that it could lead to going to jail – ed.] are certainly part of legitimate political freedom of expression that must not be harmed."

Yakir, who made it clear that he is in favor of the disengagement plan, said, "We do not accept the intention to arrest children under 12 who resist the evacuation. Upgrading punishments, legislating new crimes, and the ridiculous idea of administrative detention against [Yesha residents] are very grave. The Penal Code is already full of too many crimes, and there is certainly no need to legislate more crimes or add to existing punishments."

Regarding the uprooting of citizens from their homes, Atty. Yakir said that this is a grave blow at the citizens' rights, "but Israel's position - like the international community's - is that these are territories that were conquered in war, and that the settlements were established as temporary security measures. The government permitted its citizens to settle in Yesha, and has the authority to change its deployment there."

Yakir was asked, "Is it really automatically accepted that because the government sent them there, it can now remove them? After all, taking this logic to an extreme, parents might be able to end their child's life because they brought him into the world?"

Atty. Yakir: "Of course, nothing is automatic. It should not be understood from my words that the government can do whatever it wants. The citizens who moved there did this based on the government's policy of establishing settlements as temporary security measures, and this policy can end."