Israeli Supreme Court upholds deportation decision for Mairead Maguire

The Israeli Supreme Court has apparently decided to stand behind a deportation decision made last Tuesday at Ben Gurion Airport when Northern Ireland’s Mairead Maguire landed to attend a conference of women Nobel Peace Prize winners with Israeli and Palestinian women.

Maguire had participated in three expeditions to break the seige on Gaza by sea, and received two previous deportation orders which also banned her from returning to Israel for the next ten years.

A panel of three Supreme Court justices said they did not believe Maguire was unaware of the ban.

Israel’s state attorney convinced the Supreme Court that Maguire should have appealed the matter through Israel’s Interior Ministry rather than just flying to Israel and showing up at the airport.

According to Haaretz on Monday night, “In its ruling, the panel of Justices wrote that the Irish peace activist should have first opted for the legal option available to her, which was to turn to the Interior Minister against the ban on her entering the country, and only then challenge the Interior Ministry’s decision in court. ‘When the appellant opted to take the law onto her own hands and come to Israel in spite the ban on her entry, she is not entitled to the [legal] aid she is now asking, and this on the basis of the ground rules which we apply our Judicial discretion’, the Justices wrote”. This report is published here.

YNet reported Monday night that “the judges argued that because Maguire entered Israel while being aware of the deportation order issued against her, the court cannot give a legal seal of approval, and the decision remained in the hands of the government … The justices argued their ruling was based on the belief that Maguire was aware of the deportation order issued against her, and noted that she should have acted through a legal framework, by returning to Ireland and appealing to the Ministry of Interior to reverse the order from there. ‘Once Maguire decided to take the law into her own hands and visit Israel, despite the entry ban issued against her, she is not eligible for the assistance she is requesting, according to the basic laws that guide our legal judgment’, the justices wrote. In their ruling, the judges emphasized the interior minister’s ability to exercise broad judgment vis-à-vis granting entry into Israel in general, and particularly in this case, due to its political consequences. However, the judges noted, the State of Israel should have accepted their proposal and allowed Maguire to complete the remaining 48 hours of her scheduled visit, while releasing her on bail and obliging her to leave the country at the end of the allotted timeframe”. This is posted here.

The Jerusalem Post reported that “Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justice Asher Grunis made it clear that they did not believe Maguire’s claim that she did not know she was barred from the country. Despite that, they suggested allowing her to remain in Israel until Wednesday, without rescinding the deportation order. Grunis said at one point, ‘She knew [she was prohibited from entering Israel] and came here deliberately, as a provocation. Her arguments are baseless. Nevertheless, we should take broader considerations into account that are beyond the level of the state prosecution’. Beinisch said the same. ‘I am prepared to assume that she did not come here in good faith and with friendly aims’. She, too, suggested that Maguire be allowed to stay but that ‘the deportation order should not be canceled. If she wants to challenge it, let her do so from abroad’. The state’s representative, attorney Hani Ofek, said Maguire should not have been allowed access to the courts in the first place, because she did not first go through the proper administrative channels to have the deportation order canceled, specifically the Ministry of Interior, which issued the deportation orders. It was only because she had arrived in Israel as a fait accompli that she was able to obtain a court hearing, said Ofek. ‘We cannot allow her to obtain an advantage just because she took the law into her own hands’, she continued, which would be a violation of Israeli sovereignty. Ofek agreed to Beinisch’s request to consult with her superiors regarding the court’s proposal, but said she doubted that they would agree because of the sovereignty issue”. This can be read in full here.

So, are we waiting to see if the government will accept the Court’s suggestion to let Maguire stay in Israel (and the West Bank) for the next 48 hours?

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