Knesset says ‘no’ to Shin Bet
Session aimed at passing new anti-terror laws torpedoed, bill slammed as 'draconic'
A coalition including Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Legal Advisor Nurit Elstein, the Labor faction, and human rights groups torpedoed a Knesset session to pass new anti-terror laws allowing the Shin Bet extended rights against terror suspects.
The coalition called the Shin Bet proposals draconic, Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.
Objectors said a bill that infringes on the human rights of young people cannot be passed hastily on the eve of the elections.
Likud MK and Chairman of the Knesset, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Michael Eitan concluded bitter discussions of the bill, but did not hold a vote because Rivlin refused to convene the plenum before the elections.
The committee watered down the bill because of criticism.
The aim of the bill, which was drawn by the Shin Bet in consultation with the Justice Ministry after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, is to set special remand regulations for interrogation purposes and ban meetings with lawyers for terror suspects residing outside Israel.
The Knesset legal advisor said on Monday: “The security of the State is important to all of us, but the Shin Bet will not spread threats without proving why the bill is so urgently pressing. The days when the Shin Bet used to dictate legislation have long gone. It is an unworthy legislation especially in the way it is being put forward – the last minute before the elections.”
Government representatives said before the Gaza withdrawal interrogation officials had extended enforcement prerogatives in the IDF-controlled Gaza areas. At the moment security officials do not have these powers, yet the need for them persists.
In order to prevent discrimination, the committee decided to make the law applicable against all terror suspects, regardless of their residence and each case will be dealt with separately.
These are the main articles in the bill as presented by the Shin Bet and the government and after the watered down draft approved by the committee, whose fate has not been determined:
Remand extension without legal warrant. The Shin Bet suggested that detainees who are not state residents and suspected of terror activities will be brought to court within 96 hours – in comparison to 24 hours for residents of Israel. But the committee set a 48-hour limit and said senior security officials can decide to extend the suspect’s remand should they judge it crucial for saving lives.
Remand extension in a court in the absence of the suspect. According to the Shin Bet’s initial proposal the court can extend the suspect’s remand in his absence. The committee decided remand extensions of the kind can be approved only if the suspect’s presence hinders the investigation, prevents the foiling of a security attack, or helps saving lives.
Banning meetings with lawyers. According to the Shin Bet and the government meetings with lawyers are allowed within 50 days of the arrest of terror suspects. The committee ruled that the meeting can be held within 30 days. In any case, the decision of banning meetings with lawyers for 21 days can only be taken by a High Court judge.
The Shin Bet said in response: “The urgent need for the law annulment of security legislation in 2005. The bill passed a first reading in October, and since them there is a urgent need to complete the legislation.”