Netanyahu Asked Israel's AG to Prohibit Charged Protests Like J'lem Gay Parade

While discussing police indictments against demonstrators, Yehuda Weinstein revealed that he had been asked to forbid certain demonstrations- including rallies in tense Arab towns- based on security concerns.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, speaking on Wednesday at the criminal forum of the Israel Bar Association, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ministers have come to him with demands to prevent demonstrations, citing security concerns.

During a discussion about what the supervisory unit of the State Prosecutor's Office will look like,the issue of indictments filed by the police against demonstrators was raised. When a lawyer criticized the indictment of protest leader Daphni Leef, Weinstein said, “I am prepared to examine the question. I really and truly am not familiar with this particular issue.”

Weinstein added that he is concerned about the right to demonstrate. “In recent years, issues have come before me that required me to either allow or forbid a demonstration – and the prime minister, ministers and the security forces have requested me to prohibit one demonstration or another," he said. "As a rule, I would allow the demonstration.”

Weinstein made it clear that the prohibition of a number of demonstrations stemmed from security concerns, referring to the demonstrations in politically tense areas like Silwan in Jerusalem and Umm al Fahm near Haifa, and to divisive social issues like the gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

Concerning the state prosecutor's supervisory unit, Weinstein said that it was being changed so the public could voice complaints directly to the watchdog and not just to the lawyers. A final formulation of the body’s structure and authority is still in the works and it's not yet clear who it will report to.

According to Weinstein, it will be under his jurisdiction although Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is interested in an independent unit, like the judicial ombudsman for complaints against judges. At this point, it is agreed that the unit will be headed by a retired district court judge.

Tess Shaplan
Olivier Fitoussi