Tony Greenstein | 21 January 2023 | Post Views:

 Israel’s Supreme Court is and always has been a Court of Ethnic Cleansing, Colonialism and Zionism

80,000 people, almost all of them Jewish, demonstrated last weekend against the judicial reforms of the new Coalition Government which would allow the Knesset to override any Supreme Court judgment by a one vote majority and which would enable the government to hand pick new Supreme Court judges.

Conspicuous by their absence were Israeli Palestinians. The message that went out was that this demonstration was about ‘protect(ing)  democracy in Jewish and Zionist Israel – and not democracy in Israel.’ In other words, Jewish Democracy.

It had already been made clear the previous week, when there were two demonstrations in Tel Aviv, that slogans such as ‘End the Occupation’ were not welcome. Mansour Abbas of the United Arab List, an Islamist Party which accepts that Israel is a Jewish State, in return for minor concessions, called for people not to bring the Palestinian flag.

The Supreme Court has always been a Zionist court. Although it has a token Arab judge that is for the sake of appearance. Not once has the Supreme Court struck down a racist piece of legislation whose purpose was to reduce the rights of Arab citizens. The Supreme Court is fully wedded to the idea of a Jewish Supremacist state.

From the Law of Return, which granted Jews a right to ‘return’ to Israel at the same time as Palestinian refugees were excluded, to the Absentee Property Law 1950, whose sole purpose was to confiscate land from Palestinians, the Supreme Court has been consistent in supporting anti-Palestinian laws.

Jeremy Corbyn, when asked, during the debate against Owen Smith in 2016 for leadership of the Labour Party, what he most admired about Israel and its achievements, said:

“I admire the verve and spirit of the towns and cities in Israel. I admire the separation of legal and political powers in the system of democratic government that’s there.”

It was one more act of appeasement by Corbyn, thus demonstrating his ignorance of the supremacist nature of the Israeli state.

The Supreme Court has presided over the theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank using a variety of legal tricks. In July 2022 it ruled that the Mitzpeh Kramim settlement could stay because the land was stolen in ‘good faith’.

The Supreme Court has create the legal architecture of Israeli Apartheid. The most notable cases are those involving the question of whether Israel is a state of all its citizens or whether it is a state of the Jewish ‘nation’.

In 1972 this question was decided in George Tamarin v State of Israel. Tamarin wanted his nationality changed from ‘Jewish’ to ‘Israeli.’ Justice Agranat ruled that

‘the desire to create an Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation is not a legitimate aspiration. A division of the population into Israeli and Jewish nations would… negate the foundation on which the State of Israel was established. ‘There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish People. The Jewish People is composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewry.’

Why is a nationality embracing all of a State’s citizens, as opposed to the metaphysical ‘Jewish nation’, not legitimate? The Supreme Court did not say. In the process the Supreme Court clung to the Zionist fiction that Jews, from China to Argentina, India to Brazil, are members of a single Jewish Nation.

In 2013, in Uzzi Ornan v the State of Israel, the Supreme Court  confirmed the Tamarin ruling that there was no such thing as an Israeli nationality. It stated that ‘there is no proof of the existence of a uniquely ‘Israeli’ people’, ignoring the fact that every other state in the world accords the same nationality to those possessing the same citizenship and living within its borders.

What the court was doing was ruling that Israel is not a state of all of its citizens but only of its Jewish citizens and notionally Jews living outside Israel. The idea that Israel is a state of Jews, wherever they live, is the fiction that underpins Israeli Apartheid. Effectively it was saying that Jews are a race.

Today Zionists don’t talk openly of a Jewish race except for overt racists like the new ‘Culture’ Minister Miki Zohar MK who opined that ‘the “Jewish race” is the smartest in the world and possessing of the “highest human capital,”’

A mythical Jewish nation/race trumped the rights of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, which is why Israeli citizenship is meaningless because Jewish and non-Jewish citizens have very different rights  in a Jewish state.

If there was any doubt about this then Netanyahu made this explicit when he said, in 2019, in response to Israeli actor, Rotem Sela, who had protested that even Arabs are human beings, that

Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.

In 2018 this was codified in the Jewish Nation State Law which made any notion of equality in Israel redundant. This law held that:

1 (a) The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish People, in which the State of Israel was established.

1 (b) The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish People in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.

1 (c) The realization of the right to national self- determination in the State of Israel is exclusive to the Jewish People.

Section 4(b) relegated Arabic from the status of a recognised language to one with a ‘special status’ which in practice has meant no status. Section 7 originally supported the creation of Jewish only settlements and communities but, with an eye to how this would be interpreted overseas this became

‘The State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.’

Even though Israel has been established for nearly 75 years, Jewish settlement, i.e. colonisation and displacement of Israeli Palestinians, is still a ‘national value’. Judaisation of the Galilee, Negev/Naqab and East Jerusalem is an ongoing process of house demolition, land theft and the eviction of Palestinians. In nearly every case the High Court (i.e. the Supreme Court) has ruled in favour of Jewish settlement and applied the Absentee Property Law which allows Jews to ‘reclaim’ properties that they owned prior to 1948 whilst at the same time denying Arab citizens or residents any equivalent right to reclaim homes that they once owned.

In July 2021 the Supreme Court held, by 10-1, that the overtly racist Jewish Nation State Law was constitutional even though it explicitly discriminated against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. In the process they affirmed that that Arab citizenship was all but worthless.

The one Supreme Court justice who ruled against the law was its only Arab member, George Karra. Not one Jewish judge was prepared to leave their Zionism and racism at home. This is the Supreme Court that thousands of Israeli Jews are taking to the streets for.

Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, issued the following statement at the time:

The Israel Supreme Court approved a law that establishes a constitutional identity, which completely excludes those who do not belong to the majority group. This Law is illegitimate and violates absolute prohibitions of international law… the Attorney General and the Knesset decided to ignore and disregard these violations in their responses to the case….

The Israeli Supreme Court has not protected Palestinians from the most racist laws in the world since World War II and the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Rather, the Court upheld the Citizenship Law, banning Palestinian family unification in Israel; the Admissions’ Committees Law, which allows small communities built on state land to discriminate against Palestinian families using the criterion of “social suitability”; the Nakba Law, which prohibits any groups or schools that receive state funding from commemorating the Nakba (the Catastrophe); the Boycott Law, which makes calls for boycott a civil tort, actionable for damages; and now the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law. Adalah will continue to work internationally to expose the discriminatory and racist nature of this law, a law which clearly shows the Israeli regime, as a colonial one, with distinct characteristics of apartheid.

Those who are protesting in Israel are demonstrating for Jewish rights in a Jewish state not for the democratic rights of all Israeli citizens. That is why Israel’s Arab minority, apart from a few professional Arab politicians, ignored these demonstrations.

Below I summarise some of the more egregious decisions of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has never hesitated to defer to Israel’s internal security police, Shin Bet and the Israeli army. There isn’t a single instance in which the Court challenged the judgement of the army or police when it came to infringing on the liberties of Palestinians.

Ha’aretz described how, last September, the court rejected a petition to release a hunger-striking administrative detainee Khalil Awawdeh whose body weight had dropped to 38 kilograms (under 84 pounds). He was going blind and his consciousness was blurred. His hunger strike had lasted at that point for 172 days.

Justices Daphne Barak-Erez, Ofer Grosskopf and Alex Stein wrote that after having reviewed confidential material that Awawdeh’s lawyer could not see, there exists “firm and substantial justification” for Awawdeh’s continued detention.’

As Awawdeh’s condition deteriorated even further another petition was submitted to the High Court and Justice Anat Baron, a ‘liberal’ judge by Israeli standards, ruled that no significant change had occurred in the circumstances that would justify court intervention.

Along with Justices Stein and Chaled Kabub, Baron ruled that the fact that no indictment had been filed had no bearing on the strength of the evidence. Revealing the evidence “might severely harm state security.” In other words, the High Court of Justice decided that the dying man must not be released because of the danger he posed.

And then what happened?

24 hours later, wonder of wonders: The Shin Bet security service agreed to release the detainee upon his completion of the current period of detention, at the beginning of October. Until then he will stay in the hospital as a free man.

Administrative Detention is imprisonment without trial. It is repugnant in any democratic society. Internment Without Trial was last introduced in the UK in 1971 in Northern Ireland and abolished in 1975 yet in Israel it is a permanent feature of the legal system.

Israel routinely locks up Palestinians without trial, for 6 months at a time, renewable indefinitely, without the High Court saying a word. It accepts, without question, the word of Shin Bet. The ‘evidence’ is not seen by either the prisoner or his legal representatives. The High Court acts as a military court when it comes to Palestinians. Jews rarely experience Administrative Detention, however heinous their offences, because Israel’s Supreme Court is Israel’s Colonial Court.

Ha’aretz commented:

The justices of the High Court must now hang their heads in shame. If further proof were needed that in matters of the occupation the court is nothing more than a hollow rubber stamp, a body that automatically and blindly submits to every Shin Bet caprice, this case is incontrovertible proof. On Tuesday, Awawdeh was still dangerous, on Wednesday he was no longer dangerous, and all this with the approval of the High Court of Justice that, as in many other cases, was led up the garden path by the Shin Bet.

The role of the High Court is to oversee and restrain the Shin Bet, not to become its abject servant. This week the court showed it fails in this duty, and also made a laughing stock of itself.

In September 2022 it was revealed that Israel’s Supreme Court Had 74 Interns in the Past Two Years. Only One Was Arab.A Supreme Court internship is highly prestigious, and is considered a springboard to advanced studies at prestigious universities abroad, and to positions at leading law firms and the State’s prosecution. Every Justice among the 15 serving may choose two interns for an internship period of 12 or 18 months. Some become fully-paid legal assistants to the judges following their internship.

Professor Muhammad Watted, Dean of Safed Academic College Law School explained that

an intern doesn’t sit at the Supreme Court to make coffee. They speak their mind, persuade, and can provide the judge for whom they work with a different perspective.

 Prof. Yuval Elbashan, formerly Dean of the law school at the Ono Academic College commented that

Since time immemorial, it has been university graduates interning at the Supreme Court, mostly from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University. It is sad to see that nothing has changed. It’s the same old song….

A Supreme Court internship is very prestigious and highly-regarded. It enables admission to advanced studies at the leading American universities.”

Gideon Levy’s in A Hostile Take Over of a Hostile Institution wrote that:

This pathetic battle over the character of Israeli democracy, a democracy intended solely for the privileged, is the joke of the year. It’s a tempest in an apartheid teacup: Our democracy-for-Jews-only is in danger. Save it! All of the pathos and every piece of artillery has been pulled out to save this fake democracy.

But it is also not a democracy when 5 million people are living under its auspices with no citizenship and no rights, with the approval of the High Court of Justice – that is, the Supreme Court sitting as a constitutional. Consequently, the hysteria that has erupted over the planned injury to the Supreme Court is bizarre and even outrageous….

Through its support for the occupation, the court sowed the poisonous seeds whose fruits we are reaping today. If it had refused to legitimize the occupation back when it had the power to do so, there would be no Itamar Ben-Gvir, there would be no settlements and there might even be no occupation.

It’s impossible to view it as a democracy with the exception of the occupation: The occupation has become an inseparable part of the state, that defines its evil system of government – apartheid with the High Court’s approval.

What did the High Court do to protect democracy against the occupation? Almost nothing. What could it have done? Almost anything. …

the Palestinian people, which lives under occupation, received no relief from this court, the court betrayed its trust. A court that never took a position in principle against the legality of the settlements; that approved administrative detentions, aka detention with trial; that delayed for years before graciously agreeing to take a stand against torture; that approved mass deportation… and home demolitions; and that turned its face against international law is a court that sabotaged democracy.

It’s actually rightists and settlers who ought to be grateful to this court for having legitimized the occupation for them. The left should have come out against it long ago….

The Supreme Court functioned more like a military court than like a gatekeeper. It was the obedient servant of the executive branch. It’s impossible to sing paeans of praise to it now and mourn the fact that it is being weakened.

Great danger now lies ahead for civil rights, freedom of expression and other freedoms in Israel. For instance, we will quickly find ourselves with a Knesset for Jews only, and that will be only the beginning.

Demolishing the Homes of Palestinian ‘terrorists’ but not Jewish terrorists

Perhaps the most egregious example of the ingrained racism of Israel’s Supreme Court concerns its ruling that the homes of Palestinians engaged in resistance to the occupation which kills an Israeli should be demolished but that the homes of Jewish terrorists should not be demolished.

Demolishing a home because a member of that family engages in ‘terrorism’ is itself illegal under international law because it is a form of collective punishment. However the Supreme Court regularly      disregards international law.

The argument that is used to justify this state of affairs is that Arabs are deterred from attacking Israelis by demolishing their family homes whereas Jews are not deterred.

So in the case of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16 year old Palestinian boy who had petrol poured down his throat which was then set alight, the homes of Yosef Haim Ben David, 33, and two minors were not demolished.  If however the roles had been reversed, then the perpetrators’ family homes would have been demolished.

The bogus argument is made that Palestinian ‘terrorism’ is far  higher than Jewish terrorism.  It is bogus because of course most Jewish terrorism is by the army.  In other words it is legal as befits an occupying arm.

Whatever sophistry is employed the fact is that there are two standards of justice in Israel – one for Palestinians and another for Israelis.

The May 21 Riots and Pogroms

In May 2021 a series of riots and pogroms erupted as the Israeli state attacked the Gaza Strip. True to form the Israeli judicial system, just like the Czarist authorities over a century ago, gaoled the victims of the violence and dealt kindly with the pogromists. Except that in Czarist Russia the victims were Jewish whereas today they are Arabs.In Good Riddance to the High Court Masking Israel’s Moral Decay Akiva Eldar wrote how for Palestiniansit would actually be a very good thing if the new Knesset quickly enacted an override law. From their perspective, the High Court of Justice is the Israeli occupation’s flak jacket, the fig leaf that covers the ruler’s moral and legal nakedness. I wrote in What is the Meaning of Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Israel’s Far-Right Government? that it is western apologists for Israeli Apartheid who are most affronted by the proposed reforms, because now the Supreme Court will be revealed for the racist, colonial institution it is.

Alan Dershowitz, whose career has included defending Jeffrey Epstein and American neo-Nazissaid that:

“It will make it much more difficult for people like me who try to defend Israel in the international court of public opinion to defend them effectively, It would be a tragedy to see the Supreme Court weakened.”

Alan Dershowitz

But it was Aharon Barak who clinched the argument.

The High Court has acted as a kind of legal “Iron Dome,”. Without a credible independent court, deemed as ensuring Israel’s democratic functioning, including in its treatment of the Palestinians, “our chief of staff and government ministers will immediately be arrested when they travel overseas…  The leaders of the country will be put on trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”It was no surprise that President Isaac Herzog told the Knesset’s that“Israel’s diplomatic and legal institutions, including our Supreme Court, will continue to be a diplomatic and legal defensive shield for us on the international front.”

In a speech in January 2019 Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said that

one of the important side effects of judicial review is its contribution to Israel’s international legitimization.” Its intervention helps “bolster Israel’s claim of ‘complementarity’ when it deals with criminal proceedings in foreign courts, whether international or those of other countries.”

Hayut was right. The last time Israel dealt with the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the government hid behind the High Court’s apron. The Foreign Ministry argued that the High Court’s rulings (which ordered the state to change the route in some places) prove Israel’s ability to scrutinize itself.

In response to the ICJ’s ruling that the separation fence is a form of annexation and is therefore illegal, the Likud-led government headed by Ariel Sharon said that “Israel will continue acting in accordance with the decisions of the High Court, which has exclusive authority to discuss this issue.”

It is no surprise that Hayut has broken with tradition and entered the political arena with a fierce attack on the proposed legal reforms. As Akiva Eldar wrote:

Castrating the High Court would destroy the warped legal edifice created by Justice Meir Shamgar when he served as the military advocate general. He invented the term “administered territories” as a replacement for “occupied territories” and proposed throwing the High Court’s doors wide open to Palestinian residents of the territories, even though they aren’t Israeli citizens.

Baker Zoubi described a series of cases where the courts dealt leniently with Jewish pogromists and harshly with Palestinian Israelis. In June 2021 Ya’akov Cohen was convicted of violently assaulting Said Musa, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, in Bat Yam. The prosecution sought a sentence of 4-7 years for Cohen, who kicked Musa while he was lying helpless on the ground after having been dragged out of his car by several Jewish assailants, including Cohen. The judge however sentenced him to only 15 months in prison, justifying his ruling by arguing that Cohen “believed in the moment that the victim of the crime [Musa] was trying to carry out a car-ramming attack.”

In November 2021 Adham Bashir was convicted of taking part in an attack on Mor Janashvili, a Jewish Israeli, in Akka. The prosecution requested that Bashir, who threw a stone at Janashvili’s car and broke its windshield, be sentenced to 10-13 years. The three judges agreed and sentenced him to 10 years in prison explaining that: “This was an ugly and dark attack that requires significant punishment.”

Sabrin Bashir, the mother of Adham Bashir, said that a Jewish man rammed his car into several Arab youths, and her son “went to see the youth who was run over and he was a relative of ours.” After he had been arrested

We were prevented from seeing him for several months. They kept telling us that the indictment talks about throwing a stone at the ramming vehicle, even though the driver got out of it and fled. Do you get such an indictment for throwing a stone at an empty vehicle? The sentence does not match the act.

The prosecutor’s office decided not to file charges against Jewish Israelis who were suspected of involvement in the shooting of Musa Hassona in Lydd/Lod in May 2021. At the same time, seven Arabs from the same city were indicted for the killing of Yigal Yehoshua, after they admitted to throwing stones at his car.

According to Mossawa Center, a Haifa-based human rights organization, the police and the Shin Bet arrested about 3,600 Israeli Palestinian citizens since the events of May 2021. Around 360 were indicted, and more than 100 were convicted and sent to prison. In the rest of the cases the accused are under house arrest or in detention until the end of the proceedings. According to Mossawa, in cases where appeals were filed, the Supreme Court increased the sentence.

Data provided in June 2021 to Aida Touma-Suleiman MK from Hadash showed that the prosecutor’s office requested the arrest of 190 Palestinian citizens and 17 Jewish citizens as a result of the unrest. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that 77% of indictments for crimes of incitement to violence and racism filed by the prosecutor’s office in recent years were filed against Arab citizens.

At the end of November 2022, four residents of Tamra received prison terms of between five and seven years, after they were convicted of throwing stones and beating a Jewish Israeli who entered Tamra during the May events. Unusually, the Jewish man, Shir Alkalay, actually requested that his attackers receive a lighter sentence after signing a traditional “Sulha” (forgiveness) agreement with them, but the court ruled that

“the harm to the public interest must be considered more broadly here… the personal security and right to freedom of movement of the Jewish population are damaged to the core.”

When has an Israeli colonial court given a moment’s consideration to the freedom of movement of the Arab population?

Muhammad Agbaria from the village of Mu’awiya was convicted after confessing to firing a gun at police officers in Wadi Ara, as well as throwing bricks at police and Shin Bet officers from the roof of his house when they came to arrest him the next day, injuring them. His family claimed that the confession was extracted from him by force.

Ilham Agbaria, Muhammad’s sister, said that her brother had been in detention for a year-and-a-half before being sentenced.

“We’re appealing to the Supreme Court, but we don’t expect his sentence to be reduced. Criminals and murderers aren’t sentenced to 15 years, but when a guy goes out and shouts about respect for him and his people, he gets such an unjust punishment.

“We see how they punished Jews who attacked Arabs, and how they punish armed criminals in our society,” said Nassim Qabha, Agbaria’s son-in-law. “They think they can prevent youths from going out to protest the next time, but it won’t help them, because force doesn’t work against our people.”

In December 2022 dozens of mothers from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem organized a protest in front of the Jerusalem District Court, where the mother of prisoner Bilal al-Jabari said that her 19-year-old son has been detained for a year without trial, with the prosecution demanding an eight-year prison sentence.

The authorities insist on unfair punishments against young people, despite the daily harm to the residents of Sheikh Jarrah from settlers, all under the auspices of the police.

Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh said that the unfair rulings are a clear testament to the fact that this system is part of Israel’s apartheid regime, which allows the murderers of Musa Hassuna and  Muhammad Qiyan (a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was killed by undercover police in Umm al-Fahm in May 2021) roam free, while the victim who protected his home is being put on trial.

According to Al-Mezan, although there are similarities in the details of the indictments filed against Jews and those filed against Arabs, the sentences against the Arab defendants were specifically tailored to punish young Arabs for their participation in the events of May 2021.

This is a double standard between Jews and Arabs in rulings on indictments regarding national issues… the severe punishments are a dangerous precedent and indicate that the Israeli justice system is racing toward extremism and discrimination.

In May 2022 Ha’aretz described the High Court  as ‘the Occupation’s Rubber Stamp’ before going on to describe it as

 the kashrut department of the settlement enterprise and the slaughterhouse where petitions against the occupation’s injustices were sent to die. Our supreme legal institution upholds land theft, supports home demolitions as a punitive measure, signs off on detentions without trial, allows the prolonged blockade of two million people in the Gaza Strip and hasn’t prevented entire communities from being evicted from their homes.

It described the High Court as a

‘whitewasher of the injustices of the occupation. In a ruling issued in the dead of night – ironically, between Memorial Day and Independence Day – the court permitted the expulsion from their homes of about 1,000 Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta… for the benefit of Israel Defense Forces training. As a result, eight Palestinian villages whose residents have lived in them for generations will be destroyed.

David Mintz, Ofer Grosskopf and Isaac Amit, rejected the petitioners’ argument that they had lived there before it was declared a firing zone in 1981. Miraculously, none of the hundreds of Jewish settlers living in the area (most of whom came later) has been asked to leave his home or his settlement for the army’s firing zone. And so, with the imprimatur of the High Court, Israeli apartheid has been legitimized in this area of the South Hebron Hills.

In view of the selective expulsion based on nationality, it will no longer be possible to refute the argument that an apartheid regime has replaced the military occupation in the territories. Occupation is temporary by definition; apartheid is liable to persist forever. The High Court approved it….

These 1,000 residents, over whose heads the sword of expulsion now hangs, were born and raised in this land of caves, in which shepherd communities live in very harsh conditions, without electricity or running water, all while remarkably preserving their traditional way of life. This doesn’t only involve expelling people from their homes but also destroying a living culture. The High Court lent a hand to this.

The court also rejected the argument that the prohibition in international law against forced population transfer is binding on the court or that it applies to Israel…. Justice David Mintz, who is himself a settler, in effect ruled that international law on this matter, and perhaps also regarding other matters, is not binding on one country in the world – Israel – and depends upon its consent….

The fact that it was published in the dead of night may indicate that even within its walls there are those who recognized the disgrace this verdict brings upon the court and the country.

Amira Hass described Masafer Yatta as home to traditional Palestinian cave-dwellers since at least the beginning of the 20th century. The Prosecutor described the area and the structures that have been built alongside the original residential caves – including schools, mosques, and a medical clinic. Because Palestinians are never granted planning permission they were all ‘illegal’.

The Palestinians’ lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, attempted to correct this misrepresentation, fearing the judges would get the wrong impression. The clinic is a tent, Lecker noted. As for the schools, he said,

it’s a shame there are no photos showing how pitiful they are, since Israel has been repeatedly denying Palestinians permission to build.’

The argument that Palestinians rarely if ever receive planning permission, unlike Jewish settlers, made no impression on the ‘justices’. After all that is what Zionism is about.

Lecker told the judges that there was no escaping the conclusion that in the eyes of the state, there are legal people (who are entitled to live comfortably in recently built settlements) and illegal people, who aren’t entitled to the same comfort as the settlers, despite having lived in the region long before them. It is they that the state demands permanently leave their homes.

Removal of Palestinians was precisely the intention of Ariel Sharon in the early 1980’s. Preventing the spread of the Arabs in the area required that it be declared a firing zone, Sharon told the army, according to minutes from a 1981 meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs. There, like in the Jordan Valley, the genetic code of the firing zones is halting the process of natural Palestinian rural development that has been ongoing for many generations.

Another measure to halt the natural development was the transfer of Palestinian land reserves and water sources to the settlements, contrary to international law. In the early 1980s, Israel built the settlements of Carmel, Maon, Metzadot Yehuda and Susya in the Masafer Yatta area. With the support of Israeli authorities, these settlements have been joined over the years by additional illegal and unauthorized outposts: Havat Talia, built in the 1990s, followed by Avigayil, Havat Maon, and Mitzpeh Ya’ir – all built in the early 2000s.

Prosecutor Bart is a resident of the settlement of Neveh Daniel, east of Bethlehem, in the Gush Etzion Settlements Bloc. One of the three justices considering the petitions is David Mintz, a resident of the settlement of Dolev, west of Ramallah. As a Palestinian folk proverb asks: ‘When the rooster’s the judge, what kind of a ruling can a grain of wheat expect?’

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

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