Friday, September 11, 2009

Supreme Court: Three in a Row

in a Row
by Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The Supreme Court issued three rulings this week that gladdened the hearts of the nationalist camp. The first one ordered the government to find a solution within 45 days ensuring that several dozen expelled Gush Katif residents not be expelled yet again. The next day, the Court ruled that the State must submit a schedule for the destruction of 77 illegal Arab structures in Jesha. Finally, on Friday, the High Court ruled that the police may not discriminate against religious Jews who wish to visit the Temple Mount.

“This is the best Temple Mount ruling that has ever been handed down by the Supreme Court. For the first time, the Court has given practical meaning to Jewish civil rights on the Temple Mount.”

Expellees Must Not Be Expelled Yet Again

The first case dealt with former residents of Elei Sinai and other destroyed Gush Katif towns who moved to Kibbutz Carmiya, just north of the Gaza Strip. The government’s Disengagement Authority, known as Sela, is responsible for ensuring that the residents have permanent housing – but today, more than four years later, for those living in Carmiya and elsewhere, this is still far from the case.

Over five months ago, fearing action by the kibbutz members, the Carmiya residents sued the government to make sure that they would not have to be relocated once again. The State had promised Kibbutz Carmiya that it would unfreeze lands, as well as give them benefits and loans, on condition that it allow the residents to live on their property for two years. The two years have passed, the State did not fulfill its promises, an agreement was reached for two more years, again the State did not fulfill its promises, and now the kibbutz wants the residents out.

“You should not be sleeping at night” and “Who prevented you from figuring out what to do until now?” were some of the harsh comments uttered by the Supreme Court justices to a Sela government representative during the hearing.

The State offered to pay for alternate housing for the Gush Katif residents, but the judges said no. “You have 45 days to find a solution for the residents to continue to live in Carmiya until you find them permanent housing,” the judges told the State.

Equal Enforcement of the Law

In the second ruling, handed down on Wednesday, the Supreme Court instructed the State to submit schedules for the razing of 77 illegal Arab structures in the villages of Yatma and Asawiya. Judges Rubenstein, Arbel and Meltzer sharply criticized the government for its blatant lack of enforcement of building laws against PA Arab violators.

Here, as well, the Court gave the State 45 days to comply. The original suit was filed by Regavim, an association that aims to preserve national lands.

No Temple Mount Discrimination Against Religious Jews

On Friday, the Court ordered the police to stop discriminating against religious Jews at the entrance to the Temple Mount. The ruling judges were Rubenstein, Meltzer, and Salim Jubran.

Yehuda Glick, a long-time Temple Mount activist, had filed a suit against the "special treatment" given to religious Jews who wish to visit the holy site. While other visitors are merely checked for weapons, religious Jews must show their identity cards, have the number entered into the police computer for tracking, and are not permitted to walk around the Mount without a police and Waqf escort. In addition, they are often not allowed to enter the site at all until other religious Jews who arrived earlier complete their visit.

Based on affidavits attesting to the above by various rabbis and other religious visitors, the judges ruled that the discrimination must stop. All evidence of discrimination must be shown to the authorities, and if the practice continues, the court will once again address the issue.

Glick’s counsel, Attorney Aviad Visouly, said, “This is the best Temple Mount ruling that has ever been handed down by the Supreme Court. For the first time, the Court has given practical meaning to Jewish civil rights on the Temple Mount.”

Visouly said the ruling certainly stems from the ongoing increase of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site in the world. In the past year, police statistics show that 7,000 religious Jews visited, up 30% from the year before. “Credit goes to the Temple Institute, the Movement for the Establishment of the Temple, El Har HaMor, Manhigut Yehudit, the Sanhedrin, and the political activities of MKs Urei Ariel, Aryeh Eldad, and Michael Ben-Ari, all of the National Union," Glick said.

Entry to the Temple Mount is a matter of controversy among Orthodox rabbis. Most frown upon it, but others permit it after precautions such as immersion in a ritual bath and study of the exact route, and more, are taken.

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