On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice George Karra issued an interim injunction blocking, until further notice, the implementation of the arrangement for compensation for settlement evacuees – after it had been finalized by a government decision.
In his ruling, Justice Karra, a Christian Arab resident of Jaffa, froze the transfer of funds to the 42 families evacuated from Amona, the 15 families evacuated from Netiv Ha’avot, and the nine families evacuated from Ofra, until the government comes up with a different decision.
The overall reparations to the 66 families are estimated at $29 million, roughly $450,000 per family on average. The money was supposed to compensate for their losses and to enable them to start afresh in their new locations.
Karra’s decision followed a petition from attorney Shahar Ben Meir, who demanded that the personal compensation the evacuees should have received be canceled. In the petition, Ben Meir claimed that the government’s decision to grant compensations is illegal, lacks any legal authorization, and encourages delinquency and non-compliance with the law.
Shahar Ben Meir, an attorney who works in Ramat Gan and specializes in class action suits, is an habitual thorn in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s side. In 2017 Ben Meir caused the forced resignation of Netanyahu’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, from his position. Ben Meir filed a petition with the court claiming that because of the submarine investigation (file 3,000), which involved the arrest of Molcho’s partner and Netanyahu’s cousin and attorney David Shimron, there was a built-in conflict of interest in Molcho’s working for the prime minister. Molcho resigned one day ahead of his scheduled response to the petition in court. In another petition, Ben Meir caused the cancellation of the radio program of former Likud Knesset faction chairman MK David Bitan, claiming an MK couldn’t talk for two hours without a counter view being heard.
In the reparations to the evacuees petition, Ben Meir got Justice Karra to demand that the regional councils of Binyamin and Gush Etzion, as well as the evacuees themselves, submit a preliminary response to the petition by Monday. The Karra decision also states that “an interim injunction is hereby issued to refrain from implementing Government Decision No. 2178 of 12.18.2016 and Government Decision No. 3598 dated 2.25.2018, until another decision is made.”
In late February, the High Court of Justice approved a three-month extension to the evacuation and demolition of 15 homes in Netiv Ha’avot in Gush Etzion – provided that the residents leave the area willingly at that later date. Part of the arrangement whereby the residents would be leaving willingly was for government to compensate them for their considerable losses. The Karra ruling has effectively yanked that part out of the deal, with no certainty now as to the outcome of the entire deal.