No place to hide: Intelligence and civil liberties in Israel

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In its quest for security and under constant threats, the Israeli state has assigned wide-ranging powers to its intelligence services. These powers include deep incursions into individual liberties and privacy, powers of detention and interrogation, as well as involvement in assassinations. To ensure that those powers are only used legally and against real threats, a system of legal controls and parliamentary oversight over the intelligence community has developed incrementally. The article examines the development of intelligence oversight in Israel and analyses its performance and limits. The article begins by examining historical milestones in the development of intelligence oversight, including the Tubianski affair, official assassinations and ‘Committee-X’, and the ‘Bus 300’ affair. It then analyses the 2002 General Security Service Law and the work of the Intelligence Community Disciplinary Court and the Knesset Intelligence Sub-committee. The roles of Commissions of Inquiry and of the State Comptroller are discussed against the background of various intelligence failures and scandals. The article concludes with a discussion of the strengths and limitations of intelligence oversight in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-648
Number of pages20
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


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