The Supreme Court ruled in rare 2-1 split decision Monday evening that the government can free 26 more terrorists, including five from Jerusalem.
The minority ruling implied that the Cabinet acted hastily and did not fulfill its promise last July not to release terrorists with Israel citizenship without thoroughly examining the issue.
In virtually every previous appeal challenging the release of murders, the court has ruled unanimously, Justice Eliyakim Rubinstein, in a dissenting opinion, said that the government should have provided more information to show that it understands the ramifications of releasing terrorists living in Jerusalem and holding Israeli citizenship.
Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and Justice Tzvi Zilberthal said they did not see any reason to make a distinction between terrorists who do not have Israeli citizenship and those who do.
The court handed down its ruling as approximately 200 protesters marched in a drizzle to the Old City home of one of the terrorists. Only 15 of the demonstrators were permitted to protest outside his home due to fears of violence. The court earlier in the day overruled a decision by authorities to ban the protest.
In his dissenting opinion on the appeal by the Almagor Terror Victims association, Justice Rubinstein wrote, “There is a question if the government of Israel and the Cabinet ministers weighed their opinion on the subject and the ramifications beyond considering only the information that is noted in the list [of terrorists].”
He added that the government should hold further discussions on the subject of “freeing Eastern Jerusalem residents” before the court could decide whether to release them.
Justice Rubinstein noted that the court questioned the government several times on the issue but did not receive answers concerning whether the government held discussions specifically freeing Arabs from eastern Jerusalem, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements that the issue would be addressed.
“Residents in eastern Jerusalem have the rights of Israelis,” such as receiving welfare and health insurance benefits,” Rubinstein added.
Approximately three hours after the decision, eight terrorists already were on their way to their homes in Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. Eighteen others were to leave the Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, after midnight.
Israel agreed last July to free 104 terrorists in four batches in return for the resumption of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s so-called “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The last batch of 32 terrorists is to be freed towards the end of the nine-month period Kerry set for the discussions.