Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the:
Right to freedom of opinion and expression: Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
The resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 adopted by the General Assembly came into force on the 14th of July 1992 in Latvia. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
As Israel has no formal written constitution, a series of basic laws govern the formation and role of state institutions as well as their relations and the civil rights of its citizens. However, there is no express commitment to guaranteeing freedom of the Press in the Basic Laws. The Supreme Court of Justice, through its rulings, has filled this space by affirming that freedom of expression is a guaranteed right in the state of Israel. The Supreme Court's jurisprudence is a key element in upholding the rights to freedom of expression. Moreover, the principle of the freedom of expression is included in the declaration of independence
The Freedom of Information Law, 5758-1998, allows any citizen or resident to access records which are held by government offices, local councils and government owned firms. However, its use is not particularly high, leaving room open to encourage its implementation.
The Broadcasting Law (1965) established the Israeli Broadcasting Authority as an independent agency. A second law passed in 1985 established a second Radio and Television Authority which is commercial.
A law prohibiting the denial of the Holocaust has been enacted in 1986 and applies to all the media.
The recently passed “anti-boycott” bill (July 2012) by the Knesset remains controversial making the call for a cultural, economic or academic boycott of the people and institutions in Israel (including Israeli products) for political reasons open to civil lawsuits and economic sanctions. However, what is meant by boycott remains broad leaving potentially many open to lawsuits and fines.
A 1945 law gives the Israeli Defense Force's Military Censor the right to remove material on all media platforms that is deemed as a threat to national security which both domestic and foreign media organizations must comply with. Though it must be noted that voluntary agreements have been concluded between military authorities and the Israeli Committee of Daily newspaper editors concerning the publishing of information in regards to this manner. However, this practice continues to be the subject of debate on limiting freedom of expression for the protection of national security.