Security and Human Rights Policy: Israel and the Interrogation Case of 1999

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When are interrogators exempt from criminal responsibility by the imperative to acquire information that might save lives endangered by terrorist attack? This article uses the Israeli example to show that aspects of security policy previously assumed to be based on independent foundations actually results from political bargaining. Interrogation of terrorist suspects is governed instead by bargaining between political leaders, civil servants and interest groups, all of whom function in an environment conditioned by non-governability, judicialization, and an alternative political culture. This article examines tensions between human rights and domestic security through a detailed analysis of the dispute over interrogation methods by the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Beth), which resulted in the Israeli High Court of Justice's Interrogation Decision of 1999. While most studies deal with security culture as a belief that determines polices, this article elaborates on the input of various political actors who operate within a complex of variables. The article examines the alternative culture in Israel that has a powerful effect on the creation of public security policy. The gridlock created by competing governmental institutions has prompted judicial intervention in many areas. Faced with a paralysed government, interest groups have created an alternative political culture, stressing action through the courts. Accelerated judicial activism has the effect of diminishing respect for the law in the eyes of the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-596
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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