Subjecting Israel’s Nuclear Program to the Rule of Law

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September 14, 2017
Avner Cohen

The following is an excerpt of an article published September 14, 2017 in Ha’aretz.

Last week, the High Court of Justice heard a precedent-setting petition filed by lawyer Eitay Mack on behalf of over 100 citizens. (Full disclosure: This writer was one of the initiators of the petition and took part in writing it). The petition asked the High Court to intervene and regulate the status of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. I say precedent-setting because the subject is the most secretive of the three secret organizations operating under the prime minister, whose administrative status has never been brought before the High Court, and because the legal remedy it requested from the High Court is extremely radical.

[…]

I myself made a special trip from the United States to attend proceedings, in the hope of saying a few words about the subject as an academic scholar. At the same time, on the eve of the discussion and with the aid of one of my research students, I published a data-rich study comparing the way in which three Western democracies with nuclear weapons – the United States, Great Britain and France – have dealt with the challenge of nuclear legislation, compared with the way Israel has handled – or failed to handle – the challenge.

[ … ]

On Tuesday, the High Court officially published its decision. As expected, the petition was rejected, but it was clear the High Court justices (Esther Hayut, Menachem Mazuz, and Noam Sohlberg) addressed the problem with all due respect. The petition was rejected because, as stated in the ruling, the High Court does not have the authority to order the state to enact a law. But its rejection is not a determination regarding the question of whether or not such legislation should be introduced.

Perhaps the most important thing about the court’s decision was its recognition of the public importance of the problem the petition raised [… ]

Read the full story at Ha’aretz

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