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May 3, 2016 / 25 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

High Court Suspends Natural Gas Deal, Harming Israel’s Relations with Energy Firms

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday accepted some of the petitions against the Netanyahu government’s natural gas outline which included development and exploitation of the country’s newly discovered off-shore deposits by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group.

In a four to one vote, the justices specifically ruled against the “stability clause,” which blocks any government regulatory changes to the off-shore gas outline for the next ten years – something that Netanyahu had promised the energy companies, in order to guarantee them stability in return for their massive investments.

This clause is considered legally problematic as it obligates future governments and Knessets, without actually having been passed via legislation.

The court ruling means the entire signed deal is suspended until the Knesset has a chance to review and amend the law. The court gave the Netanyahu government one year to fix the clause, or the deal would die.

Out of all the petitions that had been submitted to the high court after the law had been approved, the court embraced most decidedly the appeal from three good government groups — Movement for Quality Government, Association for Environmental Defense, and Israel Energy Forum — who also argued against the validity of the clause 52 maneuver, which was used by Netanyahu in an elaborate process that involved firing the state regulator, handing a government minister the Interior portfolio from which he had been removed in disgrace over embezzlement, and the Prime Minister’s claiming for himself the Economy portfolio.

Clause 52 permits the economy minister to bypass the objections of the state regulator and create a de facto monopoly, for security reasons.

Many observers had been placing small bets on whether or not the Prime Minister’s complicated political circus act would land him in front of a Supreme court veto. Surprisingly, it didn’t. In the end, the court did not challenge Netanyahu’s masterful maneuvers, but by striking down the stability clause, it may still kill the deal.

The good government groups argued the PM lacked the authority to approve the gas outline; pointed to supposed deficiencies in the approval process; claimed the absence of a relevant factual basis to establish the outline; decried an assault on the rule of law; cited violation of the principle of distributive justice; claimed injury to the intergenerational justice; accused the PM of violating the public trust; said the law had a lack of proportionality; and declared it was an extremely unreasonable legislation. The only thing missing was the kitchen sink.

But the court only accepted their argument regarding the stability clause.

Still, the three judges who voted to suspend the law were adamant in their condemnation of the Netanyahu government’s lack of respect for the democratic process. Justice Esther Hayut, who is slated to become the next Chief Justice, wrote regarding the stability clause that it is the most excessive overreach by the Prime Minister, in that it ties up government’s hand for a decade against changes in regulating and taxing the natural gas exploitation.

Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that the Supreme Court made an “unfortunate decision” in blocking the government’s plan to develop the offshore natural gas fields, warning it could cause irreversible damage to Israel’s energy sector. “The decision’s negative consequences on the development of the gas market, on energy security, on the Israeli economy and on the lost revenue for the state of Israel and its citizens, could be very tough, and even irreversible,” Steinitz said in a statement.

At this point it is unclear whether Netanyahu would be able to fix the stability clause in the current political reality of the Knesset.

Two ministers, Galant (Kulanu) and Katz (Likud) have had to recuse themselves from the debate for reasons of a conflict of interests, as would, possibly, Finance Minister Kahlon. This leaves a tie of 59 to 59. A lot will depend on MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu opposition faction, who may not be so eager to lend a helping hand to Netanyahu. And even if the PM manages to pass an amended bill, it is to be expected that the left in the House would take it right back to the Supreme Court.

PM Netanyahu said he would find a way to overcome the damage the court’s ruling just did to Israel’s economy. But for the time being, the gas will continue to remain stuck under the sea.

David Israel

First-Ever Dissent Written by US Supreme Court Justice Over Refusal to Hear Jewish Prisoner’s Case

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito filed an unusual dissent Monday when the Court declined to hear the case of a Jewish prisoner refused the right to study Torah with two fellow inmates.

In a hand-written petition to the Court, Israel Ben-Levi had asked the justices to review the decisions of a federal district judge and an affirmation by the U.S. Court of Appeals, according to The Washington Post.

The Supreme Court generally does not explain its decisions to decline hearing a case — thousands are declined each year. There has never before been a written dissent. On Monday alone, 550 cases were declined by the Court, according to The Miami Herald.

But somehow, the case of Ben-Levi v. Brown touched Justice Alito.

“The court’s refusal to grant review in this case does not signify approval of the decision below,” the judge wrote. “But the court’s indifference to this discriminatory infringement of religious liberty is disappointing.”

Although there was no quorum of 10 to meet the minimum requirements for a minyan, Ben-Levi contended that a smaller group would be better than nothing.

The justice agreed and said the prison policy treated Jewish groups differently than Christian or Muslim groups. “The courts below should have considered whether the policy imposed a substantial burden on Ben-Levi’s ability to exercise his religious beliefs, as he understands them,” Alito wrote. “Ben-Levi believes that relaxing the minyan requirement promotes his faith more than sacrificing group Torah study altogether.”

Prior to 2004, Ben-Levi was known as Danny Lee Loren, his birth name. At present he is being held in Green Correctional Institution, a minimum-security facility 80 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Both of the lower courts had upheld the decision by the prison to deny his request in 2012 to hold a “Jewish Bible Study” group at Hoke Correctional Institution in North Carolina, where he was being held at the time.

Ben-Levi wrote to the Supreme Court, “It seems that all other faith groups are allowed to meet, yet the Jewish inmates are discriminated against. I feel the religious rights of the Jewish inmates are being violated on a regular basis.”

Prison officials contended the claim was invalid because there was no quorum of 10 Jewish adults to establish a minyan. There was also no outside rabbi to supervise the study group, although the policy has since been revised to include “approved” inmates to lead study groups as well.

“Concerns have been raised in the past of inmates engaging in gang activity under guise of being members of the same religious faith group engaging in religious practices,” North Carolina Assistant Attorney-General Kimberly D. Grande told the Supreme Court in a brief.

Jewish law (Halakha) only requires a quorum of 10 men for certain prayer services; it does not require a quorum of 10 in order to study the Torah, and in fact such study is conducted in pairs or small groups in rabbinical institutions.

Hana Levi Julian

Former PM Olmert Appeals Talansky Case

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared Tuesday at the Jerusalem Supreme Court to appeal his sentence in the Talansky case.

Olmert was sentenced on May 25, 2015 to eight months in jail for the scandal in which he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from New York businessman Moshe Talansky.

He also was fined NIS 150,00 ($37,000). The jail sentence followed a sentence of six years in prison for the Holyland apartments bribery scandal. Olmert was convicted of accepting bribes in return for facilitating the real estate project in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan neighborhood while serving as mayor of the city.

That six year prison term, however, was reduced by the Supreme Court to 18 months a year and a half later.

Olmert was acquitted last month (Dec. 29, 2015) on a major portion of his 2014 conviction.

Israel’s Supreme Court accepted Olmert’s argument regarding the state’s failure to prove he actually received half a million shekels in bribes as mayor of Jerusalem in the Holyland affair.

The court did, however, retain the former prime minister’s conviction on receiving a bribe of NIS 60,000 during his tenure as Minister of Industry.

Hana Levi Julian

Supreme Court Cancels Terrorist Home Demolition

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

There is an old saying in Yiddish, “Man plans and God laughs.” In Israel, the struggle is usually between top government officials and the Supreme Court.

This time, the home of an Arab terrorist who murdered an IDF soldier a year ago is safe from demolition thanks to a stay of execution by the Supreme Court.

The terrorist, Nur al-Din Abu Hashayeh, was convicted on the charge of murder in the first degree after he stabbed IDF soldier Almog Shiloni to death on November 11, 2014 at Tel Aviv’s HaHagana train station.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the 11-month delay between the date of the attack and the decision to demolish the terrorist’s family’s home was unreasonable.

The two judges wrote in their opinions that such a long delay undermines the intended deterrent effect of home demolitions. Rapid carrying out of such orders is central to fair and correct administration, wrote Judges Meni Mazuz and Tzvi Zylbertal.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein wrote the minority opinion, contending that a partial demolition of the home would weigh fairly between the amount of time passed and execution of the order, and the need to create deterrence.

Yossef Shiloni, the father of the victim, expressed his outrage at the decision.

“The very least the state could have done was to demolish the terrorist’s home to calm us down a little. Nothing will bring back Almog, but it would have given us a bit more heart,” he told the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot.

As the trial continues, the distraught father said, the terrorist “laughs in our faces, yells at the court and humiliates us.”

Hana Levi Julian

High Court Freezes House Demolition of Henkins’ Murderer

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

(JNi.media) Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a freeze on the demolition scheduled for the same day of houses belonging to the terrorists who murdered Malachi Rosenfeld, Dan Gonen and Eitam and Na’ama Henkin. The demolition was celebrated by the Netanyahu government as yet another means in the effort to stem the recent wave of Arab terror. The freeze order, issued by Justice Uzi Fogelman, said the state should avoid carrying out the destruction of those homes pending a hearing of petitioners’ claims.

The decision caused great anger on the right. Bayit Yehudi said in a statement that the “NIF has reached a new high of hatred of Israel through another one of its organizations which submitted the petition to the High Court. It is sad that these are the people who run our lives. The court must understand that human life is hanging in the balance, this is not the time for politics.”

Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett also commented, saying “this is an emergency, it is time the justices understood this. When people are murdered in the streets, the high court cannot wave its procedures to delay the war on terror. The Court must understand that any delay in the destruction of the home of a terrorist damages Israel’s deterrence and endangers lives. I call on the Supreme Court to come to its senses and adopt a quick decision regarding the home demolitions.”

Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin said he calls “on the High Court not to drag its feet and immediately hold the debate about the demolition of terrorist homes, the Court held back today. Even the Justices should understand that we are at war against terrorism, and a democracy that can’t defend itself won’t win this war. Preventing the next attack by creating a deterrence with the demolition of terrorists’ houses is the order of the day and it can’t be that the Supreme Court will throw sticks in the wheels of the Cabinet decisions.”

More than two weeks ago, the Political/Security Cabinet approved a number of additional measures initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the security situation, in order to stem the growing tide of terrorism. The Prime Minister also instructed Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked to establish a mechanism to significantly shorten the procedure.

The day after the decision, security forces demolished the house belonging to Muhammad Nayif G’abis in Jebel Mukkaber. G’abis carried out the “tractor attack” near Route 1 in Jerusalem during the 2014 Gaza war, caused the death of Rabbi Avrohom Wallis and injuring seven other civilians.

JNi.Media

Former Religious Settler Cleared to Command Police Dept.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

The next commander of the police force is going to be religious and with experience as the deputy chief of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

The committee that must approve senior government appointments, and which is headed by former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel, cleared Roni Alsheich for the position as police commander on Thursday.

The next and final step before Alsheich takes his new post is approval by the Cabinet, where little or no opposition is expected.

The quick approval by the committee was light years away from the painful and drawn-out process after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan nominated former senior IDF office Gal Hirsch to take over the police department.

The Turkel committee took nearly a month before stating it could not reach a conclusion, but the nomination of Hirsch was scuttled by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who decided to interfere in announcing that it could take weeks or even longer before completing an investigation of charges of wrongdoing concerning Hirsch’s arms-trading company that dealt with Georgia.

Erdan wasted no time in coming up with Alsheich as his next choice, proving his determination that the next police chief will be from outside the force that has been plagued by scandals ranging from sexual harassment to bribery. Alsheich, whose name was not disclosed until earlier this week, joined the Shin Bet in 1987 after having served an IDF Paratroop officer.

He is a former resident of Samaria but now lives in central Israel, is married and has seven children and seven grandchildren.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Netanyahu’s Pre-UN Speech Message: Legalize Adei Ad Outpost

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Government prosecutors have told the Supreme Court Wednesday it intends to legalize the controversial Adei Ad outpost in Samaria while admitting that it was built illegally.

The announcement came hours Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly and may indicate that the Prime Minister is going to match Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ hardliner stance towards Israel by making it clear that the number of “settlements” will grow.

However, the announcement also could be part of a political deal with leaders of Judea and Samaria, legalizing the outpost but continuing an unofficial building freeze or carrying out the dismantlement of other outposts.

The government response puts a huge hole in efforts by the anti-settlement Yesh Din organization, which has petitioned the court in the name of four Arab villages to order the expulsion of Adei Ad residents.

The government told the Supreme Court that it will examine the status of all the Adei Ad land, which the community says is state land. The court previously has rejected Arab claims that Arab land belongs to them.

A closer probe of the status could result in the government’s widening the area that is considered state land, in director opposition to Arab claims of ownership.

Approximately 40 families live on Adei Ad, which was built in 1998.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahus-pre-un-speech-message-legalize-adei-ad-outpost/2015/09/30/

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