06/11/2020, 14.31
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Supreme Court ruling against a pro-settlement law is justice restored, says Rabbi Milgrom

For the court found, a 2017 law that legalised West Bank settlements on private Palestinian land is unconstitutional. For Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, the ruling is "common sense", and the right cannot do what it wants. He is disappointed by Gantz, who was supposed to be "an alternative" but has done nothing to change government policy.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday has struck down a law that would have legalised many Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Jeremy Milgrom, an Israeli rabbi and a member of Rabbis for Human Rights, said that the Supreme Court "restored justice" with is “frustrating” for Israel’s right-wing.

The latter now realises that it cannot do "what it wants", but must look at things for the “common good.” In his view, “private property cannot be taken away at a whim; the [court’s] decision is common sense".

In its decision, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a 2017 law that legalised Jewish settlements in the West Bank built on private Palestinian land. This comes at a time “growing tensions” and attacks "against the judges", as Jeremy Milgrom himself acknowledges.

According to the Court, the law "violates Palestinian property rights and equality" by privileging the "interests" of Israeli settlers. Up to 4,000 settler homes were retroactively legalised.

The nine-judge panel ruled eight to one that the law did not “provide sufficient weight” to the status of “Palestinians as protected residents in an area under military occupation.”

Following petitions submitted by several Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, the legislation had been put on hold.

The 2017 law would have legalised homes built on private land in the West Bank without government authorisation, provided that they had been established “in good faith” or had government support, and that the Palestinian owners receive 125 per cent financial compensation for the land.

The new Israeli government, agreed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz, plans to annex Palestinian territories and legalise settlements.

This worries Christian religious leaders in the Holy Land. For them, the plans are “serious and catastrophic,”backed by the United States through its controversial "deal of the century", a peace plan drafted by the Trump administration.

Israel’s ruling Likud party and the country’s right-wing camp have reacted negatively to the court ruling. For the Minister of Settlement Affairs Tzipi Hotoveli, the Supreme Court “declared war on the rights of Jews to settle in the land of Israeli.” In her view, "The best response to the court is annexation and continued construction.”

By contrast, the decision was welcomed by Israel’s left. In a statement, the centrist Blue and White alliance said: “We respect the High Court's ruling and (will) ensure it is implemented”.

Jeremy Milgrom, who advocates interfaith dialogue, stresses that "the issue revolves around the right of Jews to return to their land", but this cannot be done "at the expense" of Palestinian rights.

For him, policies that "benefit everyone" must be promoted, and Minister Hotoveli ‘s words are unacceptable because "they are not based on the principles ​​of peace and coexistence.”

Hopefully, this ruling, combined with the intervention of the international community, can stop the policies of Israel’s right, which are backed by Donald Trump.

“We hope he [Trump] won’t be re-elected, and that the next [US] president will reopen a real channel of communication,” Milgrom said.

Finally, the leader of Rabbis for Human Rights notes that the steps taken so far by Benny Gantz, the former opposition leader, now partner in the national unity government, have created a certain malaise.

"Gantz was supposed to represent an alternative;” in reality, it is the right that makes all the decision in the coalition government.

"Many people are upset and wonder whether he is intelligent or was serious about being a real alternative to the Prime Minister,” Milgrom said.

Now “Gantz is the defence minister, in charge of the Armed Forces, but he has done nothing so far to change policies, and this is a source of grave concern because the pressures on the Palestinians is growing."

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