Sunday, September 20, 2020

Knesset bill to prevent Palestinians taking land disputes to High Court

By Ruth Regan - March 05, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Israeli Justice System] [Israeli High Court] [Israeli government] [settlements]

A bill is quietly advancing in the Israeli Knesset which could deny Palestinians of their right to take land disputes to the High Court. Instead, they will have to take claims to the Jerusalem District Court, less likely to rule in their favour.

The land disputes in question refer to Palestinians claiming ownership of land built upon by Israeli settlements.
The bill is being spearheaded by pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a Zionist extremist even by Netanyahu’s standards. Shaked is an outspoken advocate of annexing parts of the West Bank and opposes a Palestinian state.
Cases in the High Court currently place the burden of proof on the State, whereas the proposed change in jurisdiction to the Jerusalem District Court would shift the burden of proof to the claimant, the Palestinian.
The claims against actions of the Israeli authorities in Area C of the West Bank would now be treated the same way as if they were within sovereign Israel.
Shaked has even gone as far as to select a close associate who shares her pro-settlement views, Haya Sandberg, to serve on the Jerusalem District Court.
Sandberg would most likely become one of the judges hearing these Palestinian petitions.
The shift is being presented as a move to lighten the workload of the High Court, which hears 2000 cases a year on this issue, as well as to tackle the “discrimination” which Shaked claims settlers face in the High Court.
Gilad Grossman, from Israeli Human Rights NGO Yesh Din, refutes this claim of discrimination.
'[It is] a false pretence - the claim that the Israeli settlers in the West Bank suffer from legal discrimination, when the truth is that they enjoy privileges that Palestinians can only dream about,” Grossman told Palestine Monitor.
In the past, the High Court has disapproved of and ruled against settlements, such as ordering for the demolition of Netiv Ha’avot, an outpost of the Israeli settlement Elazar, south of Jerusalem.
“There are certain lines the High Court won’t allow the state to cross”, Grossman explained.
Regardless of the ruling, the Israeli state have sought to circumnavigate removing the outpost, with a Supreme Court order to delay the demolitions and, most recently, a government vote to legalise hundreds of new homes there.
Last Sunday, Shaked’s Knesset committee announced the coalition government’s support for the bill. It is due to advance in the Knesset in the coming months.
In a statement the day after it was greenlighted, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi described the bill as preventative of justice.
“The settlers will be emboldened to embark on a land grab, and the Palestinians will be prevented from seeking recourse of any kind of justice to protect their land and properties,” Ashrawi warned.
Yousef Jabareen, member of the Knesset from the Joint (Arab) List alliance of political parties, said in a statement;
“[The bill is] another proposal from the workshop of a pro-settler, right-wing government that is seeking to normalize the occupation and is promoting creeping annexation of West Bank territory and of the court system in the area.”
Grossman agreed that the “sole purpose [of the bill] is to advance the annexation of the West Bank” as well as “to normalize the Israeli occupation and attempt to portray the West Bank as part of Israel.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is also seeking to move issues around immigration, the Law of Return and humanitarian committees granting entry to Israel, to lower courts.

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