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June 25, 2016 / 19 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Report: Israeli Civil Administration Accelerates Mapping of State Lands in Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in 2015 re-mapped an area of 62 thousand hectares in Judea and Samaria, in a manner that may hint at plans for wide range construction there, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday. The re-mapping is carried out by a special task force dubbed the “blue line” team, within COGAT. The work involves examining state lands that were declared in the last century. The old maps are being digitally scanned to enhance their accuracy. The report notes that Israeli law demands re-mapping areas that were declared state land before 1999 before releasing them to construction.

The report, composed by Dror Etkes, founder of Kerem Navot, an NGO “monitoring the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” is based entirely on speculation over the map digitizing effort at COGAT, which may be simply an administrative move to preserve them, rather than a secret plot to populate those areas. However, since Etkes is not a newcomer to observing and reporting on the Jewish settlement enterprise, his conclusions, coming as they are from a hostile, leftwing source, may be a cause for (muted) celebration in rightwing circles.

“It’s important to understand that the mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively at the depth of Judea and Samaria and to settlements which are well outside the ‘settlement clusters,’ as well as, most emphatically, to areas declared by Israel to be ‘fire zones’ despite the fact that in reality they are part of the lands reserve which Israel gradually assigns to settlement,” Etkes told Ha’aretz.

The re-mapping effort of those 62 thousand hectares constitutes a significant increase in the rate of this work, compared with only 20 thousand hectares re-mapped in 2014 and 13 thousand in 2013.

Ha’aretz speculates that one of the goals of the new, wholesale re-mapping effort, is intended to deny Arabs living in the fire zones the right to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against infrastructure and construction work carried out near their homes. Should such appeals be filed, Israel would be within its rights to argue that the Arab homes were built after the area had been declared state land.

Etkes also suggests that the re-mapping of areas near Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria indicates planned expansions. He noted 962 hectares re-mapped near Nokdim, and 3 hectares outside Gitit.

JNi.Media

New Defense Minister Facing Challenges Within and Without

Friday, May 27th, 2016

The State Dept. deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner on Thursday reiterated verbatim his statement from the day before about the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) had chosen to bolster his coalition government by inviting MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) to serve as his defense minister. Toner said, “We’ve seen the agreement that has been reached to expand the coalition. We also know that this is the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history.” He knows this because, he said, “We’ve seen – or we know that many of its ministers have said they oppose a two-state solution. And what I said yesterday is the same as what I’m going to say today: this raises legitimate questions about the direction that the new Israeli Government may be headed in, and what kind of policies it’s going to adopt. We’re going to judge this government by the course it charts and the actions it takes going forward, but yes, we are concerned.”

It isn’t clear from the statement whether Toner is aware of the fact that the reason the current Netanyahu government is “the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history” has to do with the fact that Israel’s voters have been voting rightwing parties in at an increasing rate, and the fact that so many government ministers oppose the 2-state solution has to do with the fact that the majority of Israelis oppose it. Just like, incidentally, the majority of Arabs do as well. But the attacks on Liberman’s appointment are coming not just from Washington, DC, but from inside the Netanyahu government.

The coalition agreement Netanyahu and Lieberman signed on Wednesday included a commitment to promote a new amendment to the Basic Laws, Israel’s closest thing to a constitution, which would limit the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn Knesset laws. The amendment would require a majority of 8 out of the 15 justices to overturn a law.

On its face, this is not a bad idea. In the loose and soft boundaries between the branches of government in Israel, the Supreme Court has become so activist, it has practically begun to legislate, by trimming and cutting laws based on petitions from individuals as well as from Knesset opposition factions. It should be noted that in Israel a petitioner need not prove a direct and personal injury from a given law, it’s sufficient that they object to it. And so we’ve seen recently how the Knesset opposition factions which lost the vote on the off-shore gas deal took the law to the high court, which killed it on its face, and then recommended which precise changes in the law would help it pass the court’s approval. In short, the high court added its vote to the opposition to defeat an elected prime minister. That’s bad enough as it is, but the fact that the panel judges dealing with these petitions don’t even require the approval of a majority of the court is about as anti-democratic as they come.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) did not see it that way, and on Wednesday night announced that he would veto any attempt on the part of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu to limit the power of the Supreme Court. “So as not to keep you guessing, I’m telling you in advance — this will not happen,” Kahlon tweeted in response to the new coalition agreement.

Kahlon is desperate to appear as if he matters in the Netanyahu government. His popularity has been sinking, while the clout of his rival in the center of the map, Yair Lapid, has been soaring. In a political environment where the Supreme Court is the only means by which the Tel-Aviv elite has been able to force its will on the rightwing majority in Israel, distinguishing himself as the gallant defender of the court couldn’t hurt Kahlon’s creds, whether the point he’s making is reasonable or not.

Then, on Friday morning, another Kulanu politician, Environment Minister Avi Gabbay, announced his resignation on account of the Lieberman appointment. Gabbay, who is not an MK, and whose ministerial appointment was Kahlon’s choice, said in a statement, “Despite the great importance I see in [my] ministry and in our significant activities to reduce air pollution and in many other areas, the recent political moves and the replacement of the defense minister are in my view a grave act that ignores what’s important to the security of the state and will cause another escalation and the tearing up of the nation.”

So Lieberman should expect more attempts to torpedo his decisions in his new role from the left side of the Netanyahu coalition, which, with its 10 seats, could topple the government and bring on new elections whenever it wishes. Lieberman should also anticipate some friction with the Haredi parties, which are facing a decree from the Supreme Court to accept Reform and Conservative conversions, and would be likely pushing new legislation to bypass the court — legislation Lieberman may not necessarily embrace.

Finally, there are the Arabs. The four rockets that were shot at Israel by the Salafist group Omar Al Hadidi Battalions, and the feeble retaliation by the Israeli air force, illustrated the complexity of the realities inside the Gaza Strip — realities that cannot at the moment be solved with the new defense minister’s much quoted calls to just going in and taking it over. For the moment, both Hamas and Israel are interested in maintaining the quiet. But the Salafists want to heat up the front — they steal those rockets from Hamas storage and shoot them at Israel to encourage a retaliation that would bring an escalation. They’ve missed every time they’ve shot so far, but all they have to do is hit once, kill or injure a civilian inside Israel, and watch the flames that would surely follow.

The Salafists are invested in provoking the Hamas government into military action, with posters that show Hamas as the jailers who serve Israel, the warden. They’ll continue to do everything in their power to rile up a defeated, depressed Arab population. Which is why the right Israeli move at this point is containment—unless Israel wishes to fight the next war on the enemy’s terms. This is why the retaliation Wednesday night was only against two targets, one of them a Hamas naval commando training facility which the IDF has wanted to take out for some time. Despite his reputation and the irrational reactions he seems to generate in DC and across the aisle at home, Lieberman will not, for now, change the containment policy, mostly because it serves Israel’s needs.

JNi.Media

Arab Celebration Time

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Following pressure from the Israeli High Court, after the families of the terrorists lied to the Judges (surprise?) saying they wouldn’t run celebrations when the terrorist bodies were returned, the police began returning bodies of terrorists – and surprise, the families and friends began to celebrate their martyrs.

This morning, Minister Erdan ordered the police to stop returning all the terrorist bodies.

Erdan posted on his Facebook page that he hoped the judges in Israel’s Supreme Court will take notice of these images of incitement to terror, which should not happen anywhere, and certainly not in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Video of the Day

Facing Growing Protests, Venezuela’s President Declares ‘State of Emergency’

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has declared a 60-day state of emergency. The move came Friday night in response to what he claimed were domestic and U.S.-based plots to subvert him, and followed efforts by opposition lawmakers to raise a recall referendum against Maduro’s administration.

Protests in the country are gaining traction as nearly 70 percent of the population calls for Maduro’s ouster. The president was the hand-picked successor to the late president Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer while running for re-election.

Chavez was a close friend of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the two men cemented ties between their two nations while severing Venezuela’s ties with Israel. Venezuela has the largest oil reservoir in the western hemisphere.

After the partition of Israel was approved by the United Nations in 1947, more than 200 homes, shops and synagogues were destroyed in Venezuela, according to an article written by Rachelley Krygier, who wrote in June 2014 in the Caracas Chronicle about her mother’s family’s immigration experience when they arrived from Aleppo, Syria. Her father’s family, fleeing Cuba, also came to Venezuela.

“None of them could have foreseen what came next. The country was completely transformed from a refuge into a hostile, threatening place,” she wrote. Between 1990 to 2011, the Jewish community of Venezuela shrank from 25,000 to 9,000.

“Signs of anti-Semitism in the government became evident in 2009, when Chavez condemned the state of Israel, expelled the Israeli ambassador  and conducted meetings with Iran’s Ahjmadinejad. Our Holocaust survivors saw in the news how our president shook hands with a leader who denied what they and their loved ones had gone through,” Krygier wrote.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Maduro ordered military exercises for next weekend, vowing the government would take over idle factories. He did not provide details. Opposition lawmakers continued to lead protests.

“We’re talking about a desperate president who is putting himself on the margin of legality and constitutionality,” Democratic Unity coalition leader Jesus Torrealba told hundreds of supporters at a rally, according to Reuters.

“If this state of emergency is issued without consulting the National Assembly, we would technically be talking about a self-coup.”

Control over Venezuela’s National Assembly was won by the opposition in a December election that was fueled by voter anger over skyrocketing inflation, product shortages and crime, but the lawmakers have been consistently undercut by the country’s Supreme Court.

Hana Levi Julian

Defense Ministry to Demolish Amona, But Build Bigger Town Near Shiloh

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The 40 families who live in the Samaria town of Amona have to find somewhere else to live by the end of this year; their town is to be demolished.

Although the town was built on land purchased — not stolen — from Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority, the deeds that prove the sale were not accepted as valid by Israel’s Supreme Court.

But officials remember the price paid over the court-ordered demolition of nine homes allegedly built on “privately owned Arab land” in 2006.

Hundreds of civilians were wounded in the clashes to defend the homes from the thousands of Israeli police and soldiers who came to destroy them. The vicious brutality of some of the security forces was caught on camera and a number of lawsuits followed; countless Israelis were permanently traumatized as well.

Media footage remains from that debacle.

This time, the Defense Ministry planned together with the Amana organization that built the town of Amona to create a new Samaria town in its stead, near the existent Jewish community of Shiloh.

If the state fulfills its promise, the new 139-home town will be built on state-owned property near the outpost of Geulat Tzion, a new community triple the size of that which they have been forced to leave.

Hana Levi Julian

Justice Minister Commits to Enforcing Sovereignty in Area C

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) on Monday stated that she is working, together with AG Avichai Mandelblit, on an outline for imposing Israeli law on the Israeli-controlled part of Judea and Samaria. Established by the 1993 Oslo accords as Area C, it covers 60% of Judea and Samaria and is home to an estimated 350,000 Jews who live in 225 communities (including outposts yet to be approved), and 30,000 Arabs. Israel already has control over security and land-management in Area C, and many in Israel view the area, for all intents and purposes, as a future part of Israel, as opposed to Areas A and B, which were designated as the foundation of a future Palestinian autonomous territory.

Speaking to Army Radio, Shaked said she plans to appoint a committee based on the new outline, to examine every law passed by the Knesset and decide whether it can be imposed concurrently on the Jewish communities in Area C as well, via a military decree (Tzav Aluf). Past attempts to impose an automatic application of new Israeli laws in Judea and Samaria have failed, including two separate attempts by Habayit Hayehudi. These included a minimalist bill to apply Israeli laws in the “Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” and even a bill prohibiting discrimination in the supply of goods and services to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which has been waiting for a Knesset vote since 2011.

Shaked is hoping that establishing “a team who will examine every single law” for its applicability in Judea and Samaria will indirectly create a promotional device that would be on hand to pressure the IDF General Officer Commanding (GOC) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to pay better attention.

At the moment, the legal picture in Area C is very complex, whereby the law there is comprised of Ottoman and Jordanian laws, combined with military decrees of the GOC, with the Supreme Court playing referee. In recent years there has been a growing tendency on the part of the GOC to apply new Israeli laws as soon as they had been passed. Last March the Knesset passed a law enabling settlers to receive on gains inside the green line the same tax benefits they are entitled to in Judea and Samaria; and a law coordinating home buying taxes so settlers won’t have to pay twice. Despite the fact that both laws—which were passed late at night when the leftwing parties were not paying attention—the legislation was condemned as “crawling annexation” of the “occupied territories.” MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said it was a quiet way for the Netanyahu government “to impose its ideology.” Which, presumably, is what you do when you win.

The last time Livni’s party was the big electoral winner, she and her partners used their power to transfer some 8,000 Jews from their homes, the first time a Jewish community had been forcibly evicted from its homes since the end of WW2.

On Sunday, in a similar vein, Shaked said that she intends to equalize the legal conditions for Israelis on either side of the green line, either by using the military decree or by new legislation. Speaking at the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Shaked added that “It’s important that the Justice Minister have political power and political ability.”

Yes, it is, and this Justice Minister appears to be using hers wisely and bravely.

JNi.Media

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/high-court-suspends-natural-gas-deal-harming-israels-relations-with-energy-firms/2016/03/27/

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