Human Rights Watch has denounced on Tuesday recent judgements by the Israeli High Court in a report titled “Israel: High Court Rulings Undermine Human Rights”.
The report deals with two recent rulings by the Israeli High Court regarding the Citizenship & Entry Into Israel law, and the use of quarries located in the West Bank by Israeli companies.
The Middle East Director Sarah Leah Witson stated: “With these rulings, Israel’s highest court has veered seriously off course in serving as a final bastion for upholding human rights. For the system of legal checks against rights abuses to break down like this is one more indication of the unraveling of protections for rights and freedom in Israel.”
The Citizenship & Entry into Israel law prohibits Palestinians from moving into the State of Israel, in which Israel includes occupied East Jerusalem, to live with their spouses if they are from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other Middle Eastern countries in which Israel deems “operations that constitute a threat to the State of Israel are being carried out.’
Human rights group, Adalah, petitioned the High Court stating that the law prohibits the right to family life and personal autonomy and discriminates against Palestinians on the basis of their nationality, noting that Jewish foreigners were entitled to automatic citizenship, and non-Jewish foreigners married to Jewish citizens of the State could obtain residency or citizenship after four years.
The High Court upheld the law claiming that Palestinian spouses were potential security risks. They stated that some Palestinians had previously married, and moved into Israel and then carried out attacks on Israeli citizens, although no examples were brought forth.
HRW, in its criticism, has stated that this ruling violates international law regarding discrimination based on nationality, and is discriminately applied between the nationality of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. HRW also noted that the ruling is disproportionate as it places the ban on all Palestinians from the OPT and other nations Israel sees as enemy states without any assessment of the individual, and due to the lack of evidence put forth as to the extent of attacks perpetrated by a Palestinian spouse who move into the State of Israel.
HRW notes that in the dissenting judges in the 6-5 split decision had stated that they believed that the assenting judges had conflated the issues of security and that of demographics, and the desire to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.
With regards to private Israeli companies mining quarries in the West Bank, HRW stated that Israel was ignoring its obligations as an occupying power, whereby they must safeguard the capital of all buildings and land in the occupied territory. Over ninety percent of the produce of the eight mines run by Israeli companies was exported to Israel, without compensation to the Palestinian population.
President of the Supreme Court of Israel, Dorit Beinish, held that an occupying power may make reasonable use of the occupied territory and the court decided that due to the prolonged nature of Israel’s occupation, an “adjustment to the laws of occupation must be made,” as long as the work was a benefit to the Palestinian population. The court stated that approximately 200 Palestinians were employed at these mines.
HRW countered that it finds this justification spurious, as rents are paid to Israel’s Civil Administration, the military body that administers Israel’s occupation, who are the same body whose, “policies and practices consistently harm Palestinians while benefiting the settlers.” [sic]
Furthermore, the court stated that the petition was outside its jurisdiction as the matter was political rather than legal.
Whitson stated that the Israeli court was complicit in the action of the Israeli companies: “Adding to the litany of abuses by Israel in its occupation in the West Ban, we now have an affirmation of plunder by Israeli companies by none other than Israel’s high court.”