"Anti-pullout posters charging Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a dictator are legal and come within bounds of free speech, but road blocking endangers lives and is illegitimate, Attorney General Mazuz says." Source: Ynet
Anti-pullout posters charging Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a dictator are legal and come within bounds of free speech, but road blocking endangers lives and is illegitimate, Attorney General Mazuz says
05.19.05, 16:25 / Israel News
JERUSALEM - Road blocking is not a legitimate form of expression, but incendiary posters such as "Sharon is a dictator" are legal, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Thursday.
Pullout Nearing Police, road blockers face off / By Ynetnews
Anti-pullout protesters burn tires in Jerusalem; police officers foil plan to block Coastal Road
However, shoving, spitting and throwing stones at soldiers or police officers should not be considered as a form of legitimate expression, he said, adding that blocking major traffic arteries may endanger people's lives.
Authorities will respond to these actions with severity, Mazuz said.
In addition, the attorney general ruled that posters saying "Disengagement is tearing the nation apart," "The transfer (of Jews) will not be passed," and "Sharon is a dictator" are legal and come within the bounds of freedom of speech.
'The protests are understandable'
In response to National Union's Knesset Member Aryah Eldad's request to define what constitutes "incitement" and "rebellion," Mazuz took the opportunity to voice his opinion regarding Israel's justice system.
"Even though part of the public criticizes us on our restrained policies and forgiveness towards those who incite - our restrained policies regarding freedom of speech remain consistent," he said.
While freedom of speech is the basis for democratic rule, Israel's policies are derived from the recognition that the justice system also deals with real people who suffer genuine pain over the prospect of having to leave their homes, he said.
"These are law-abiding people loyal to their country, and their desire to demonstrate, protest and criticize the government's policies - even if harshly done - is understandable," he said.
Mazuz said he has asked police to examine complaints whereby legitimate demonstration posters have been confiscated, and people wearing t-shirts with slogans protesting the disengagement have not been allowed into certain events.
Meanwhile, President Moshe Katsav once again called for the state to apologize to the residents of Gush Katif for forcing them to evacuate their homes.
"The state called on them (settlers) to settle in the exact places where they now have to evacuate," he said, "and so the state must apologize for this current decision."
-Doron Sheffer contributed to the report