Israel’s High Court in the past caused a festering coalition crisis when it killed an IDF draft bill it said was not recruiting enough Haredi young men each year. As a result, Israel was thrown into three consecutive election campaigns within a year, a costly outcome that still hasn’t yielded a reliable draft law. Now the same court on Tuesday killed a law that sought to mend claims by Arabs in Judea and Samaria on Jewish land that was purchased in good faith. As is the case in similar civil court claims on the “good side” of the 1949 armistice green line, the Regulation Act compelled Arab claimants to accept market-value compensation for land where Jews have settled with government sanctioning, preventing the destruction of Jewish owned homes by court decrees.
The High Court didn’t like that, and with an 8 to 1 vote declared the law unconstitutional, which is a funny ruling in a state that doesn’t have a constitution (the country’s 13 Basic Laws have been enacted by simple majorities and may be amended or revoked by a 61-vote majority).
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut wrote the decision in her characteristically autistic style: “The Regulation Act seeks to legalize illegal acts after the fact, while violating the rights of another population.”
Or, in reality, the court prefers that a home in a Jewish settlement where as little as 10% of the land is contested be demolished, its residents lose their life’s investment, and the Arab claimant never be able to recoup, because they can’t use their land in the middle of a Jewish settlement – over an arrangement that gives the claimant market value and the home owners stay put.
Justice Noam Solberg wrote the minority opinion and warned: “I am afraid that repealing the law will not be beneficial to the settlers, nor to the landowners.”
He added: “The lands and structures that the legislature sought to regulate, sadly most of them, will therefore remain in their desolation and stagnation – until Elijah comes.” And, naturally, “in some cases the law will lead to evacuation and demolition, whose benefits are questionable.”
It’s outrageous, in this context, that the same court which haggles with the state over which particular floor in the home of a murderous terrorist be demolished, has no problem whatsoever to condemn thousands of Jewish owned homes to destruction.
When rightwing politicians, in their moments of rage, call for D9 bulldozers to topple the Supreme Court building – these are the moments that evoke this rage in them.
A source close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that “applying sovereignty will solve most of the regulation problem.” In other words, since the entire area would be part of Israel, these Arab claims would be the domain of Israeli civil courts and those would naturally apply normal civil laws which prescribe monetary compensation to the claimants, rather than the wanton destruction ordered by the Supremes.
Health Minister Yuli Ederlstein (Likud) said in response to the ruling that “the High Court has lost it.”
But alternate Prime Minister and DM Benny Gantz said: “The law caused serious problems even in its legislative process, and it shold not have been passed in the first place.”
But the right is hell-bent on rewriting the Regulation Act in response to the Court’s hatchet job, because killing the law just placed an estimated 3,455 Jewish homes in the sniper’s crosshairs and the settlement enterprise is likely to be thrown back into the quagmire of maddening litigation with the leftist dogs of war – armies of NGO attorneys paid for by European countries and a bunch of Church groups. And we though the nightmare was over in 2017…
And so, given the clear dichotomy between Likud and Blue&White over the need to fix the Regulation act and pass it again in its new format, this could spell the end of the government coalition.
Except that Blue&White has an existential need to maintain the coalition government, because the polls say in a new election it is likely to go down to single digits – much like the old Labor party it helped destroy. Which means that a resolution will be found to the emerging coalition crisis: Blue&White will abstain when the time comes to vote on the fixed law, and their votes will hopefully be supplemented by two opposition rightwing parties, Israel Beiteinu and Yamina. Assuming even Avigdor Liberman, Israel Beiteinu’s chief decider, knows how important this law is to the future of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.