Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein

In a rare case of candor and honesty, the Vice President of the Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein mused in his opinion in the ruling on a delay requested by 9 home owners in Ofra, that the best solution in the case would have been not the eviction and demolishing of Jewish property, but using the soon to become law “Regulation Act of 2017” to pay off the Arab claimants and let the Jewish residents stay in their old homes.

On Sunday, a panel of three Supreme Court justices rejected a petition for delay of action submitted by the residents of Ofra – a Jewish community only a stone’s throw away from Amona in Samaria – whose nine homes were slated for demolition this week, but whose alternative homes will only be completed in three months. They asked the court to give them until May 5 to vacate the premises. The court said no, and instead awarded them until March 5, which is a meaningless gesture under the circumstances.

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Supreme Court President Miriam Na’or, who, together with Justice Yitzchak Amit, formed the 2-1 majority to reject the appeal, wrote: “Despite the fact that the petition to extend the period by three months was rejected, we are hopeful that when the time comes for eviction the petitioners will vacate peacefully, as they have stated in their affidavits. No person has the right to use violence against law enforcement authorities or against another person.”

Her Vice President, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, a religious Jew, dissented, saying he would rather err on the side of mercy in this case, “in a situation where we can spare the double harassment from the children, 22 of them, and where there is no Palestinian waiting to go into the area here and now so that the postponement would have caused him harm. So the [Arab] petitioners will not sustain real damage.”

Justice Rubinstein concluded: “Had we lived in a ‘normal’ reality, as I’ve written in the past, we would have found a way to compensate the claimants or to purchase the land from them in a situation where nine homes are standing at the heart of a community, with a faint realistic possibility that the claimants would have actual use of the vacated land, to say the least.”

In other words, precisely the essence of the new Regulation Act on which the Knesset is slated to vote Monday night. The new law will compel Arabs to accept 125% of market value for their land, in cases similar to that of Ofra, rather than destroy homes and lives quite needlessly. There’s no doubt the Arab claimants, after all is said and done, would derive greater benefit from the land with a straight cash payment.

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