Israeli Opposition Head Calls for Knesset to Discuss Uptick in Detention of Left-wing Activists

Tzipi Livni called for an emergency discussion on the multitude of detentions of left-wing activists questioned over political activity ■ 'Jewish nation-state arrests a Jew on a bar mitzvah trip'

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Chandler West for IRL Production

Israeli opposition head Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) has requested that a Knesset sub-comittee hold an emergency discussion over the many different cases in which left-wing activists have been detained and questioned at the country's borders.

Livni made her request in a letter addressed to MK Avi Dichter (Likud), the chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

The discussion, should it take place, will be held by the sub-committee dealing with intelligence and secret services.

"I am requesting to hold an emergency discussion in the sub-committee for intelligence affairs with the participation of certified actors over the detention and questioning at the Ben-Gurion Airport; in particular [the committee ought to discuss] what's the different criteria for detaining individuals, what authority that can determine that detentions can indeed take place, what type of questions are being asked during these detentions and how they are aligned with the goals that authorities have when they issue a detention order," Livni wrote in the request that was obtained by Haaretz.

The opposition head said that "the plethora of events at the Ben-Gurion Airport is insufferable. This time Netanyahu's Jewish nation-state detains for questioning at the airport a Jew making a bar mitzvah trip. There are no red lines anymore."

>> Peter Beinart claims he was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport over political activityIsrael's Shin Bet: We recommended questioning of U.S. activists, but not on political viewsThe Shin Bet state is here | Editorial <<

Meretz MKs Mossi Raz, Michal Rozin and Issawi Frej requested  this week to meet with the head of the Shin Bet to discuss the issue.

In her statement, Livni was referring to the detention and questioning of Jewish-American journalist Peter Beinart, who claimed in an article published on The Forward Monday that he was pulled aside for questioning over his political activities upon arrival in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to Beinart's detention, with his office stating that the premier was told it was "an administrative mistake."

Beinart's account of his questioning is the last one in a slew of such cases- multiple reports have emerged recently regarding prominent activists who were detained at the airport or along Israel's borders and questioned about their political leanings and the intent of their travel to and from Israel.

Last week, two left-wing Jewish American activists were detained for three hours at the border crossing between Israel and Egypt. One of the activists, Simone Zimmerman, one of the founding members of the Jewish anti-occupation IfNotNow, claimed she was interrogated about her political opinions.

Israel's security service, the Shin Bet, stated in response to Zimmerman's allegations that it did not recommend that she be questioned about her political leanings, but simply advised that she and activist Abigail Kirschbaum be questioned.

In May, the Shin Bet held Israeli peace activist Tanya Rubinstein at Ben-Gurion International Airport for half an hour in early May, Rubinstein told Haaretz. She is general coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace and was returning from a conference sponsored by the Swedish foreign ministry. Left-wing activist Yehudit Ilani was detained two weeks later on her way back from Europe after visiting a flotilla headed to Gaza in the coming weeks in her capacity as a journalist.