Minister of National Security's Directive to Remove Palestinian Flags is Illegal
Following Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir’s sweeping directive to the Israel Police Commissioner this week, regarding removing Palestinian flags that are hung or waved in public spaces, we appealed to the Attorney General on January 10, 2023, requesting that she clarify the illegal nature of this directive. We further requested that it be made clear to the Police Commissioner and his subordinates that this is an unacceptable order that should not be implemented, and that any harm caused to Palestinian flags and those who wave them should be executed sparingly and in compliance with legal provisions.
In the appeal, ACRI Attorney Tal Hassin claimed that the policy Ben Gvir seeks to outline undermines constitutional rights to freedom of expression and identity, and violates the instructions of generations of Attorney Generals, and High Court of Justice rulings over the years. Among other things, Section 82 of the Police Ordinance does indeed authorize the police to prohibit the waving of a flag if it “results in a disturbance of the peace,” but in accordance with laws regarding freedom of expression, the attorney general has already determined that confiscations may solely be executed under this section when “there is a high likelihood of concern that raising the flag will lead to a severe disruption of the public peace.” Such concern must be well-founded and not speculative.
Attorney Hassin continued that while the Palestinian flag symbolizes the national, personal, and collective identity of many national citizens and residents, it is also a symbol of identification with the struggle against occupation, toward a political solution, and the demand for equal rights for the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, which is also shared by many among the Jewish public. She noted that whether or not the minister intends to stand by his unacceptable directive, damage has already been done and the harmful wrongful message has permeated the public sphere, and therefore it is important to clarify the legal circumstances.