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Supreme Court

  • JNF, settler group seek to evict Palestinian family in Silwan

    The Jewish National Fund, known to Jews worldwide as an organization that plants trees in Israel, is once again trying to evict a Palestinian family from their home in East Jerusalem. By Moriel Rothman-Zecher Over the past few decades, the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL), an organization known to many in the diaspora for its work planting trees in Israel (I gave a portion of my Bar Mitzvah money to the JNF), has been working in coordination with Elad, an extremist settler organization whose explicit goals include the “Judaization" of East Jerusalem. Since 1991, the cooperation between these two organizations has…

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  • It's time to disqualify Israel's Central Elections Committee

    In the run-up to every general election since 2003, Arab parties and candidates have been forced to appear in front of this committee to prove that they deserve to participate in Knesset elections. The only thing worse than the process itself is the racist atmosphere in the meetings. By Salah Mohsen The Central Elections Committee (CEC), which votes on disqualification motions submitted against political parties and candidates, and has the power to ban them from running in the Knesset elections, has in recent years become a farcical and undignified charade. In the run-up to every general election since 2003, Arab…

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  • Judges aren't cogs in the occupation, they're the oil keeping it going

    A new report maps out the two separate legal systems in the occupied territories — one for Jews and one for Arabs. At a launch event for the report, senior jurists showed up and argued it's not their fault whatsoever. Former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner asked: What can we do? The answer: A lot. (Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman) There was something mesmerizing about listening to representatives of the legal establishment speak at a conference held by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) last week. Mesmerizing and terrifying. The hardest thing was hearing Dalia Dorner —…

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  • The Knesset v. Zoabi: Israeli Arab MK's politics put on trial

    The High Court spent most of Tuesday's hearing questioning Zoabi’s politics rather than deliberating whether the Knesset had the right to suspend her in the first place. Israel's High Court of Justice held a discussion Tuesday morning over Knesset member Haneen Zoabi's (Balad) petition to overrule a decision to suspend her from parliamentary debates for six months. The decision was put into effect by the Knesset Ethics Committee on July 29 and is due to expire at the end of January 2015. Tuesday's session ended without a decision, but justices said one would be made in the coming days. The suspension…

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  • Israel's High Court orders closure of 'Holot' refugee detention facility

    Asylum seekers imprisoned in Holot celebrate the ruling but warn that it's not clear what will happen next. Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday struck down key parts of a law that allows the indefinite detention of African asylum seekers in Israel's ‘Holot’ detention facility, also striking down a section that permits the automatic year-long detention of newcomers. The court ordered the state to shutter Holot within 90 days. Almost exactly a year ago, the court struck down a previous version of the law that authorized the detention of asylum seekers, prompting lawmakers to quickly draft a replacement —…

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  • Israel's High Court nixes law allowing detention of asylum seekers without trial

    Court orders the state to begin releasing more than 1,700 prisoners immediately. In a landmark ruling, a special nine-justice panel of the High Court of Justice decided to strike down the amendment to Israel’s infamous anti-infiltration bill, which allowed the state to hold African asylum seekers in custody, without trial, for three years (and in some cases – indefinitely). The court’s unanimous decision was that the bill contradicts Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The amendment in the bill allowing the state to hold without trial any person who entered the country illegally was deemed “disproportionate” to the challenge…

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  • Would Israel's refugee policies stand up in... Nairobi?

    Israel could learn a thing or two from the Kenyan High Court's rebuttal of efforts to lock up asylum seekers. There are judges in Nairobi [1], and they are more courageous and much more familiar with refugee law than judges in Jerusalem. A Kenyan court last month published a ruling on a government decision to round up asylum seekers from urban areas and put them in refugee camps, from which they will need permits to leave. There are around 600,000 asylum seekers in Kenya. At the end of 2012, the Kenyan government published a new policy saying that asylum seekers…

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  • When 'black' becomes synonymous with 'infiltrator'

    Israeli society is undergoing a process by which the words 'Eritrean' and 'Sudanese' are becoming synonymous with the word 'cleaner,' while 'Filipina' has long ago become synonymous with 'caregiver.' And who else is behind the education process if not the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry? The job market in Israel has always been divided along nearly impenetrable national and “racial” lines; the Knesset, like the Supreme Court, is careful to maintain the divisions. In the past the divisions were primarily between Mizrahi Jews, Muslim Arabs, and Christian Arabs. These days there are different groups as well. There is a direct link…

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  • Seeking asylum in Israel: Deportation without due process

    Instead of giving asylum seekers the benefit of the doubt, as international law prescribes, in Israel, the district courts find doubts, the Supreme Court approves their decisions, and persecuted peoples are deported before the merits of their cases can be examined. Everyone can sleep soundly. Israel's asylum system is designed to allow everyone, aside from asylum seekers, to sleep soundly. The chairman of the Advisory Committee on Refugees said in an interview last year that he sleeps soundly when he rejects asylum requests, because he knows that if he has erred, the court will rectify the mistake. District court judges…

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  • With help of Supreme Court, Israeli asylum system reaches new lows

    The Interior Ministry, which processes applications for asylum, is by now well-known in Israel and the world for its lack of credibility. But it has a friend in the courts. We have discussed in the past the ways that the Supreme Court rules on refugee-related matters without any reference to refugee law. Since then, many similar decisions have been taken, and if it seems that we neglected to report on these rulings, it’s because they have become, in our eyes, trivial – courts are disinterested in refugee law. Judges purport to rule in accordance with international law without bothering to…

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  • Cut off from communities, Palestinian families seek mercy from Israeli court

    The separation barrier has isolated two families living near Bethlehem from their communities. While they are on the Jerusalem side of the barrier, they are also banned from most of the city. The courts and the state have little sympathy. By Ehud Uziel "Nu, when is this case going to end? It's been dragging on since 2006." With these words, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein convened a hearing on the lives of the Zawahreh and Jado families on Monday morning, November 19, 2012.  Throughout the hearing, I wondered whether the justices were aware of Kafka's presence in the courtroom. They…

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  • The immigrant as homo sacer, and the courts' intolerable contempt for liberty

    How Israeli courts succeed in employing legal norms in a manner that excludes immigrants from the most basic principles of freedom and justice. Immigrants of all kinds have become, to use Giorgio Agamben's terminology, the paradigmatic homo sacer of our day – they are in the area of indistinction between the external and the internal realm of juridical order, the threshold where inside and outside do not exclude each other but rather blur into one another. They are in this paradoxical realm, in which they are included in the juridical order by means of being excluded from it and abandoned…

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  • For Supreme Court, Israeli interests dictate rights of ‘foreigners’

    In many countries, if asylum seekers are engaged in legal proceedings, their deportation is automatically delayed, in light of the implications of deporting an individual to a country where he or she faces danger. In Israel, this principle does not exist.  We have discussed elsewhere how the rights of “foreigners” in Israel are considered through the prism of the rights and interests of Israelis.  The likelihood of the court granting a “foreigner” relief in the country improves considerably if an Israeli citizen's rights and interest are positively affected. However, when seeking legal status in Israel in order to improve their…

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