Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger who on Wednesday rejected the government outline by which the Amona residents would be evacuated peacefully in return for alternative housing nearby, on the same day ruled against the evacuation of Arabs from their illegal houses built on private land belonging to Jews in Beit Hanina, in eastern Jerusalem, Yehuda Yifrach, head of the Makor Rishon legal desk, reported Friday.
The Jewish plaintiffs had won their case in Jerusalem District Court, but the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court and Danziger ruled to postpone the evacuation. He actually wrote that “destroying the structures where the appellants reside would be an irreversible step which would cause them enormous harm.” This on the same day he and Salim Joubran, the only Arab judge on the court, ruled mercilessly to kick from their homes hundreds of Jewish residents in Amona.
According to several sources, Danziger was a member of the Peace Now movement, and spoke at the movement’s 1978 students rally in Tel Aviv about the need for solidarity with the PLO. In fact, Danziger’s speech at that rally was so controversial that Peace Now, fearing political trouble in an era when solidarity with Arab terrorists was shunned in the media, disassociated itself from Danziger’s ideas while describing him as an active member.
Danziger has since denied his association with Peace Now on several occasions, but when it comes down to his rulings he is the one judge on Israel’s Supreme Court who is yet to meet a Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria he didn’t want to destroy.
Israel’s Supreme Court is made up of 15 justices who serve until retirement at the age of 70, unless they resign, or are removed from office. But each case, especially appeals, is usually heard by a panel of three judges, so that it can be said that whomever decides the composition of those panels goes a long way to decide the case.
According to the law, the panels are decided by the Court’s President, currently the president is Justice Miriam Na’or, and it is clear, Yifrach argues, that she makes sure the cases that deal with settlements would usually receive panels with an anti-settlement majority. In the case of Wednesday’s Amona residents’ alternative housing, the assignment of the case to Danziger and Joubran was a guarantee that the third justice, Neal Hendel, an Orthodox Jew, would decorate the decision with his dissenting opinion, but the Jews would surely be gone from the area.
Noam Sohlberg, the only justice who lives in Judea and Samaria – in Gush Etzion – almost never makes it into panels that deal with the settlements. In fact, back in 2014, when the Supreme Court’s management office placed Sohlberg in a panel that was to hear an appeal by anti-Israeli NGO Yesh Din against the community of Adei Ad in Mateh Binyamin, Na’or intervened, postponed the hearing and assigned a new panel without Sohlberg.
The Supreme Court routinely ridicules these accusations of being biased against the settlement enterprise, rejecting such criticism by suggesting that they don’t deserve a response. Obviously, there is only one proper response to this judicial inequity: for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who just happens to be pro-settlements herself, to replace retiring justices with less biased ones. The year 2017 will see the departure of four justices, including Na’or and Joubran, and Shaked does not have to replace them with dyed in the wool rightwingers – it’s enough that they won’t be former members of anti-Israeli NGOs.