Israeli Arab writer seeks Israel’s permission to collect award in Beirut

Israeli law prohibits residents and citizens from visiting countries designated as enemy states. By Maya Sela  | Mar. 26, 2010 | 3:45 AM Israel news, Haaretz. Adalah, The Legal Center for Miniority Rights in Israel, petitioned the High Court Thursday against the interior minister and the prime minister so writer Ala Hlehel may travel to Beirut and attend a literary festival, where he is to be honored. He is one of 39 writers in Arabic under the age of 40 to be so honored at the first Beirut 39, sponsored by UNESCO and honoring Beirut as 2009 World Capital of the Book. Hlehel was named a a winner in the competition last August. It is cosponsored by the international Hay-on-Wye Festival, the Lebanese cultural ministry and the British Council. It is absolutely forbidden, according to Section 5 of the Extension of Validity of Emergency Regulations Law, whose broad powers have been in force since independence, for residents and citizens to leave Israel for any country designated by law as an enemy state, including Lebanon. According to the regulation, only the interior minister or the prime minister is authorized to permit travel to such a country. After Hlehel was chosen for the prize, Adalah approached Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Hlehel’s behalf, but did not receive a response. The Adalah petition, handled by attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Haneen Naamnih, argues that the absence of a decision on whether Hlehel may travel to Lebanon violates his rights, including freedom of livelihood and freedom of speech. And refusal to grant permission without a hearing violates Hlehel’s right...