JERUSALEM (Jun. 21)
Harsh new measures to crush the 18-month-old Palestinian uprising are under study by the Defense and Justice ministries.
Justice Minister Dan Meridor informed the Knesset on Tuesday of the methods for which Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin is seeking legal authorization.
He admitted that some of them may not be compatible with a democratic society, but he insisted they were necessary under the circumstances.
Dovish elements in the Knesset already have demanded that the proposed measures be rejected.
The defense minister is seeking authority to expel, within 72 hours, “central figures taking part in incitement, organization and participation in violence.”
He would also like the authority to demolish or seal off Palestinian houses, without appeal, and to extend the period of administrative detention to 12 months.
Under existing emergency regulations, a holdover from the British Mandate, military authorities can detain anyone for up to six months without charges, trial or appeal.
The proposals were contained in a letter Rabin sent to Meridor two weeks ago, in which he asked the justice minister and Attorney General Yosef Harish to devise the legal authority for new punitive measure.
Rabin’s letter said they were required to help the Israel Defense Force and the security services deal more effectively with Palestinian unrest.
They are the outgrowth of frustration over the continuing intifada and fear that the Jewish vigilantism it has triggered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could eventually pit Jews against Jews.
Meridor said in his Knesset speech that these are measures “we would rather not use, because they do not normally befit a democratic society.
“But a democratic society that is fighting for its right to exist is entitled to use such measures,” he maintained. “Unfortunately, all these measures are part of a reality that this war has imposed on us.”
David Libai of the Labor Party and Amnon Rubinstein of the Center-Shinui Movement urged the justice minister to reject them.
“Rabin’s demands amount to a severe violation of Israeli law and universal human values,” they said in a statement. “Accepting them will exclude Israel from the community of democratic nations and will blacken our legal system.”