AG Relaxes Ban on Demonstrations Outside Unelected Officials' Homes

The sweeping ban on demonstrations near the houses of unelected government officials will henceforth be canceled, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has decided.

Currently, under instructions issued by previous attorney generals, it is forbidden to hold a demonstration aimed at a particular civil servant anywhere in the town where he resides. Under the new rule, demonstrations will still be barred in the immediate vicinity of a civil servant's home. But police will have discretion over whether to approve or forbid a demonstration at any other location in the official's hometown.

The new rule was announced yesterday by Weinstein's aide, Oren Fono, in a letter to attorney Itzhak Bam. Bam's client, Eran Schartz, had sought permission to hold demonstrations against the freeze on West Bank settlement construction in two settlements, Kedumim and Peduel, where inspectors charged with enforcing the freeze reside. Both protests were due to take place in public areas in the settlements, not opposite the inspectors' homes.

In his letter on Weinstein's behalf, Fono said the current rule, which bans demonstrations anywhere in a civil servant's hometown, was too sweeping. It was apparently intended to ban such demonstrations only in very small communities, where the targeted official could not possibly avoid them. But as it stands, the language is so broad that it would ban demonstrations even in a major city.

After stating that police would henceforth be given discretion, the letter also detailed the major considerations police must weigh in making their decision: the size and character of the community; the location of the planned demonstration; whether previous protests aimed that particular official have been held, and if so, their frequency and duration; and the nature and seniority of the official's job.