Thursday, June 7, 2012

Justice in Jerusalem

My readers appreciate the fact that the law is incredibly complicated. Therefore, I am volunteering, here and now, to simplify a very thorny issue – presently at the heart of Israeli politics, an issue which threatened to make life rather difficult for King Bibi, the First.

In an Israeli settlement on stolen land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), it turns out that there is a small parcel of privately owned land (by an Arab) upon which some thirty apartments have been built and occupied by settler families. After tons of legal battles, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that construction on this bit of privately owned (Palestinian) land was illegal from the beginning to the end and ordered the demolition of the buildings.

The settlers and their allies demanded that King Bibi do something.  This was no simple matter even for B1 who did not want to antagonize every decent liberal in the country by deliberately flaunting the honor and the prestige of the HCJ. King or not, the settlers were preparing to roast his royal highness’s dignity by passing a law to legalize the robbery of that small parcel of land in the settlement.

Now it may seem complicated, but Israel and most of the body politic therein, including the HCJ consider that the Israeli robbery of the entire land of Palestine is totally legal and justified.
Accordingly, within the June 1967 borders, the government and courts express Israeli sovereignty. Within the OPT, the IDF and the Government of Israeli exercise sovereign rights and powers either by virtue of Military Emergency orders or by virtue of the ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court that, get this, Israel is the acting sovereign instead of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Thus, in the eyes of Israel, and its vaunted court system, the executor and the arbiter of Israel’s liberal soul and conscience, it is perfectly legal to steal an entire country, in this instance, Palestine.
So what’s the problem with these thirty apartments? It is this. Along with the rest of civilized peoples, Israel has provisions defending the rights of private property. You can steal an entire country, but you cannot steal a parcel of land.

Bibi’s party and coalition was up in arms against the scheduled demolition operation a few weeks off. Their move was the introduction of a special bill legalizing the illegal acquisition of that troublesome parcel. Now this bit of threatened legalization threatened to convert the distinguished jurists of the HCJ into a gaggle of clowns. Moreover, the HCJ could, if they dared, strike down the law as unconstitutional. (This can be done, despite the fact that Israel does not have a constitution - I told you that the law is complicated - but we will leave this side issue for another time).

The settlers and the settler lobby were frothing at the mouth. They demanded that Bibi support the legalization bill.
As abhorrent as it sounds, the King was in a minority. But King Bibi is not a king for any old reason So, the King cracked the whip and threatened to expel rebellious ministers from the cabinet and suggested a “compromise” to his followers. This compromise was a “beut.” The apartments would be “sawed up” and rebuilt a few kilometers down the road. And King Bibi has a real pacifier for the settler tantrum. Israel will commence construction, starting now, of another 1,000 housing units be built in the OPT. Homes, streets, utilities, commercial areas in honor of the compromise.  Why should Israeli Jews fight other Israeli Jews when they can amicably decide to rob some more Palestinian territory? You tell me. Hallowed be the name of the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem. Hallow be the principle of private ownership in an expropriated land. The Knesset rejected the legalization bill.  Bibi does not need a Knesset approval for bigger and better annexations.