Palestinians Lose a Legal Battle As Court Rejects Husseini Appeal

Israel’s supreme court rejected an appeal Tuesday by a Palestinian activist under administrative detention, foiling another attempt to use Israel’s legal system to counter security measures.

The High Court of justice ruled against Faisal al-Husseini, 48, who was detained a month ago under an administrative arrest order, after being identified by the authorities as a key leader of A1 Fatah in Jerusalem. Fatah is the military arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization controlled by Yasir Arafat.

Husseini demanded that he be allowed to view a secret file in his case, saying that he was unable to present a defense as long as he was unclear about the charges against him. He also asked that the legal proceedings be held openly, and not “in camera,” as has been the practice until now.

But the court rejected both appeals, citing “security reasons.”

The court then met to review a separate appeal against the six-month detention itself, the third Husseini has been under in 18 months. The court has not issued its decision, but it has never annulled an order of administrative arrest.

Administrative detention orders have become one of the major tools in the authorities’ attempts to curb the Palestinian uprising. Since the beginning of the unrest, more than 3,000 Palestinians have been put in detention camps without trial.

Administrative detainees have limited means to challenge the arrest orders, short of appealing to the High Court. Each arrest order must be approved by a military judge, and in very few cases have the judges reversed them.

CHANGE OF STRATEGY

Likewise, Palestinians who received deportation orders have been reluctant to work within the Israeli legal system, arguing that it is biased against them.

Only recently, with the mass deportation order against the 25 Palestinians, did this tactic change. On Monday, lawyers on behalf of the 25 vowed to press their appeals to the High Court.

In response to this change of strategy, some politicians have proposed enacting legislation that would render the High Court of Justice off-limits to residents of the administered territories.

But Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that he is against such a move.

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