MKs blow off censored event in Knesset

In Knesset assembly, MK Tibi asks: Is it true an Australian citizen under a different identity committed suicide in an Israeli prison?

Justice minister replies that he doesn’t know if foreign reports are accurate & the incident should be investigated.


The citizens of Israel will eventually learn information on a sensitive security case that was censored by the government, MKs told Justice Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman.

MK Ahmed Tibi“An article was published that an Australian prisoner committed suicide under a different identity. Do you know about the situation? Do you confirm that it occurred?” MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) asked, in reference to a report by Australia’s ABC news.

The questions were asked during Ne’eman’s final speech as Justice Minister.

“Are there people in prisons whose incarceration is kept secret? What are the supervision mechanisms on this kind of imprisonment?” MK Dov Henin (Hadash) asked. “What are the possibilities for parliamentary supervision on such incarcerations? How can the public be critical in this situation?”

MK Zehava Gal-On referred to the system of government censorship in Israel, saying to Ne’eman: “I want to hear your stance on the fact that journalists volunteer to censor information at the government’s request.”

“Is it proper that the Prime Minister’s Office invited the Editors’ Committee to prevent news from being publicized?” she asked. “Today, we hear that in a country that claims to be a civilized democracy, journalists cooperate with the government and that anonymous prisoners, who no one knew existed, commit suicide.”

Ne’eman responded that prisons are not under his authority, and that the MKs should ask Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch their questions.

He added that he does not know if the reports are accurate, and should be investigated.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) slammed the very existence of a censor.

“The prime minister forgot that in 2013 the media does not accept his dictates and does not act according to national consensus as in the past,” Shai stated. “It would be better to present the public with the truth, within security restrictions, and share it with them.”

The Editors’ Committee is a forum of owners and editors of major Israeli news sources that meets regularly with the prime minister. According to an agreement signed in 1996, the committee agreed not to share information given to it with a high probability of constituting a national security risk, even if other sources report it.

The Prime Minister’s office and the military censor on Tuesday invited the Editors in Chief of all Israeli media outlets to a meeting of the “Editors Committee” in order to brief them about a story broadcast outside Israel earlier in the day, which is still subject to a sweeping gag order in Israel.

The story in question involves security issues that the state of Israel believes could pose a security threat if published. Like other media outlets, The Jerusalem Post was contacted directly by the head of the IDF censor Tuesday morning who warned against publishing the story, saying that those who violate the ban could face a fine or jail time. By this time, articles about the story had already appeared in Haaretz and Walla, but had been taken down.

Shortly after being called by the IDF Censor, the Jerusalem Post Editor in Chief Steve Linde was invited to a meeting of the Editors Committee at 2pm on Tuesday. The Editors Committee was founded By David Ben-Gurion in 1948 and is an informal forum of the heads of the Hebrew press outlets in Israel and the Jerusalem Post, which meets with senior government officials to discuss matters of censorship.

The story involves a security affair from 2010, which was briefly reported on at the time in Israel, before all reports were taken down and an airtight gag order placed restricting the publication of any details of the case or its existence.

Media outlets outside of Israel are not subject to the military censor and have been reporting on the story since it first aired Tuesday.


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