Constitutional Rights

Below are readers' questions about 'Constitutional Rights', which we have chosen to answer. More detailed information on 'Constitutional Rights' can be found on our main website, Family Law in Israel.

Yes, the Supreme Court has held that a child has a constitutional right to know the true identity of his/her parents. However, sometimes this is prevented, e.g. in paternity proceedings, where a request for genetic testing is rejected by the court, to save the minor from a risk of emotional damage, or from being labelled with the lowly status of a 'bastard' under Jewish law. Adopted children have a right to open up their adoption file at the age of 18, to find out the identity of their biological parents and siblings.

Yes, every person is free to leave Israel, according to the 1992 Human Dignity and Freedom Act, which is a basic law, of elevated and protected value. This freedom can only be infringed, by law, in very special circumstances, and in a certain way. Sometimes the freedom to depart from Israel's borders is infringed, if the person's exit is likely to hinder a legal process. The Supreme Court has held that an exit order should only be placed on a foreign resident, whose centre of life is outside Israel, in the rarest circumstances.

The person’s wishes, as long as it is not proved that he lacked legal capacity at the time he gave the instructions regarding what should be done with his body after his death. According to Section 6A ( c ) of the relevant Israeli legislation,the Anatomy and Pathology Act of 1953,specifically states that consent of the person overrides family opposition.

No! It exists in principle, but not for every citizen or resident, as there is no formal mechanism like civil marriage for allowing couples who cannot marry according to the current law in Israel. The current law is based on vestiges from the British Mandate days and basically discriminates against 'mixed' religious couples, or those having no registered religious affiliation, who cannot marry according to religious law, and for whom no civil alternative exists in Israel. The nearest option for civil marriage is Cyprus.

Yes, The Terminally Ill Patients’ Act of 2005 allows a person to leave very specific advance medical instructions by stating which procedures he wishes to have or to avoid from a long, and very detailed list, which he is supposed to be guided through by a doctor or nurse. You have freedom of choice only up to a certain point as the act forbids mercy killing, assisted suicide and the cessation of ongoing medical treatment, except in certain situations.

The right to a personal life,including sexual contact and the right to procreate, is a basic constitutional right. You can file an administrative plea at the District Court, against the prison service's refusal to allow you conjugal rights. You will have to prove that the refusal is extremely unreasonable, arbitrary and made in bad faith etc. Only rarely will a court interfere in the prison rules/discretion in such issues. If you fail at the District Court, you can ask the Supreme Court to allow you to appeal.

Yes, the Terminally Ill Patients’ Act of 2005 lays down provisions for a person over the age of 17 to do this, to a certain extent. The act aims to find the correct balance between conflicting values – that of the sanctity of human life, the autonomy of the individual and quality of life. The instructions are valid for 5 years and would apply in a situation whereby the patient had only six months to live, at the most.

Yes, recent Israeli legislation, the Terminally Ill Patient Act of 2005, deals with this subject and provides for the making of an "Advance Medical Directive", akin to a "living will".

You can get legal advice from an lawyer experienced in the field who can represent you at the Ministry of Interior,and present your case there. If this fails, your lawyer can take legal action can at the special administrative section of the District Court against the Minister of Interior's refusal to recognise your marriage and start the 5 year residency/citizenship process applicable to foreign spouses of Israelis.

Yes, definitely so ! This right is enshrined in both the Human Dignity and Freedom Act of 1992 (a basic law, that has protected and elevated status), and in the 1965 Inheritance Law that gives a testator of sound mind the freedom to bequeath his property as he wishes, and be free of compulsion, pressure, undue influence etc.