Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday discussed a petition filed by the Yisrael Beiteinu political party that requests the lifting of an injunction against distributing the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
In late January, after receiving threats, Israel’s Steimatzky bookstore chain announced the cancellation of a sales event featuring Charlie Hebdo. In response, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman instructed party activists to purchase thousands of copies of the magazine’s Jan. 14 commemoration edition-which followed the Islamist terror attack on the publication’s Paris offices that killed 12 people-and distribute them to the public.
But in early February, Salim Joubran, an Arab judge serving on the Israeli Supreme Court, issued an injunction against Yisrael Beiteinu, prohibiting the party from distributing the Charlie Hebdo copies. Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) requested the injunction, arguing that Yisrael Beiteinu was violating campaign laws by distributing propaganda attached to a gift. Lieberman, however, has said that banning Charlie Hebdo distribution would “turn the state of Israel into a country that cows to threats and undermines freedom of expression.”
A three-judge High Court panel on Tuesday suggested a compromise in which the magazine could be distributed without its front and back covers. Both sides in the dispute have yet to respond to the proposal.