ACRI Petitions High Court to Cancel the State of Emergency

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has refiled a petition to the High Court of Justice to cancel the state of emergency declared with the establishment of the state in 1948 and still in effect today.

The previous petition was filed in 1999, but in a recent High Court hearing, the justices ordered ACRI to make changes to the petition in light of the security situation.

The state of emergency grants the government authority that in a normal situation only the Knesset would have, including the authority to annul laws legislated by the parliament and the authority to enact legislation.

In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government's authority to enact regulations, a power the government has by virtue of the state of emergency, seriously harms democracy.

Attorney Dan Yakir of ACRI argues such authority is reasonable only when the state faces a security-related emergency or another situation in which Knesset members are physically unable to reach the Knesset building, thus preventing them from enacting legislation.

According to the ACRI, laws enacted during the state of emergency allow the government to impose harsh limits on freedom of expression and grant it far-reaching powers to expropriate land and to oversee production and services, sometimes even when these matters have no relation to the state of emergency, such as in the sale of diamonds and air-conditioning repairs.