In Unprecedented Ruling, Court Lets Israeli Arab Visit an Enemy State

Despite Netanyahu's opposition, writer Ala Halihal allowed to attend writers' conference in Beirut.

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday granted permission for Israeli Arab writer Ala Halihal to visit Beirut, despite opposition from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

Generally, it is forbidden for Israeli citizens to visit Lebanon, considered by Israel to be an enemy state. According to the petitioners, this High Court decision marks the "first time since 1948 that an Israeli citizen is permitted to visit a state defined as an enemy state."

In their decision, the justices said that the there is no existing information to negate the petitioner's claim, adding that in their refusal to approve his travel, the authorities did not weigh all the relevant considerations in this unique case, the ruling said.

The court ruled after Netanyahu on Monday refused to allow Halihal to attend an international conference of Arab authors in Beirut. The court had asked Netanyahu for his response to Halihal's petition requesting to overturn Yishai's refusal to allow him to travel to Beirut.

Halihal's petition was submitted by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The attorneys argued that the government's refusal to allow Halihal to travel violates his constitutional right to leave the country and his rights for freedom of employment and freedom of expression, as well as his due process rights for a fair hearing.

The petition was submitted by Adalah Attorneys Haneen Naamnih and Hassan Jabareen.

Halihal on Monday traveled to London to await the Supreme Court's ruling.

Halihal is a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel. He was born in the village of Jish in the Galilee in the north and lives currently in Acre.