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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Supreme Court: Jewish lives more important than letting Arab terrorists marry - barely

This morning, Israel's Supreme Court decided in a narrow 6-5 decision to uphold the law enacted by the Knesset that limits the ability of Arabs from the administered territories to obtain residency rights in Israel by marrying Israeli citizens. The law permits residency rights in such instances only to men over the age of 35 and women over the age of 25. What is even more significant about this decision is that it was a 6-5 vote. Most Israeli Supreme Court decisions are a monolithic 11-0. And what's more surprising in this case is that Chief Justice Aharon Barak was in the minority.

During the hearing on the petitions to overturn the law, Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said he was disturbed by the law because it imposed a blanket prohibition on every Palestinian man and woman in the given age categories. He asked State's Attorney Yochi Gnessin whether the state could not develop a less injurious policy, such as expanding the criteria that Palestinian men under 35 and women under 25 would have to meet to be allowed to apply for Israeli residency status and the right to live with their spouses. In this way, each case would be judged on its merits instead of imposing a blanket refusal.

But Justice Mishael Cheshin - who wrote the majority opinion - managed to talk some sense into his colleagues. According to HaAretz, Cheshin said that Israeli citizens who marry 'Palestinians' should go live in Jenin:
"The Palestinian Authority is an enemy government, a government that wants to destroy the state and is not prepared to recognize Israel," Cheshin said during the debate.

"It's true that the Palestinians are not a hostile people. But are the State of Israel's defensive efforts against terror attacks, against lone individuals carrying out attacks not a sufficient enough reason to prevent their entry?

"Why should we take chances during wartime? Did England and America take chances with Germans seeking their destruction during the Second World War? No one is preventing them from building a family but they should live in Jenin instead of in [the Israeli Arab city of] Umm al-Fahm. The romance is touching but we are talking about life and death and the right to life takes priority," Cheshin said.
Let's not get too confident here folks. The Jerusalem Post notes that among the five other judges who voted with Cheshin:

From the beginning, the state has maintained that the law was necessary because of the security threat emanating from Palestinians who carry Israeli identity cards and are allowed to move freely throughout Israel.

Two other judges maintained that while the law violated human rights, the damage was not "disproportional."

Justice Edmund Levy, who cast the deciding vote, also maintained that the law violated the right to family life as guaranteed by law. The law caused disproportional damage, Levy said, but he believed that it would be right to grant the state nine months to prepare a new law in keeping with the Basic Law.

In other words, we have not seen the end of this case.

Needless to say the Israeli left is in mourning over this decision. According to YNet:

Attorney Dan Yakir, the legal advisor of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said: "This is a sad day for Israeli democracy, the constitutional revolution and human rights. If the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is unable to defend such a basic right for equality and family life, the question is what rights it is able to defend."

The High Court's ruling delivered a severe blow to human rights – the right for equality and for family life, Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) said Sunday.

"A black flag of injustice is flying over this decision. We will appeal to international courts following this miserable decision," he stated.
Someone had better tell Zahalka that a state cannot be brought before international courts without its consent (note that the infamous World Court decision on the 'security fence' was non-binding).

Arutz Sheva points out that:
Many of the marriages in question are fictitious affairs, designed merely to allow the PA Arab freedom of movement and other basic rights of Israelis.
According to the Jerusalem Post, State's Attorney Yochi Gnessin said at the hearing that 26 'Palestinians' who had received Israeli identity cards (that allow free movement throughout Israel) had been involved in terrorist attacks.


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