Supreme Court Chief Justice: Israeli practices in West Bank must not be compared to Apartheid

Posted: January 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , | Comments Off

chief justice dorit beinisch

Israeli Supreme Court ruled this week that the IDF has no legal basis for permanently forbidding the use of highway 443 by Palestinians.

Highway 443 is a popular shortcut through the West Bank from highway 1 and the northern entrance to Jerusalem. When it was build – on confiscated Palestinian land – the state declared in court that Palestinians will be able to travel on it freely, but after a series of attacks on Jewish vehicles during the second Intifada, the IDF decided that only Israeli vehicles will be allowed on highway 443. Palestinians were forced to travel on alternative routes, and road 443 became the symbol for the effect of Israeli occupation on Palestinian life in the West Bank.

Most of the media dealt this week with the current verdict’s “bottom line”, and declared it to be a major victory for the Left and human rights organizations, but independent journalist Adi Schwartz actually read the entire ruling, and he found some very interesting parts in it: While accepting the petition, the chief justice Dorit Beinisch warned the petitioners from using the term “Apartheid” to describe the reality in the West Bank:

The comparison made by the petitioners between the use of separate roads for security reasons and the Apartheid policy carried out it the past in South Africa, as well as the actions that accompanied it – is improper. Apartheid is a most serious crime… it is the policy of racial segregation and discrimination, based on legal practices which are meant to make certain race superior, while keeping other races oppressed. The difference between certain security measures taken by Israel to defend itself from terror attacks to the failed policies of Apartheid should forbid us from making any comparisons or use of this term… referring to the act of forbidding Palestinians to travel along road 443 is an extreme comparison which shouldn’t have been made at all.

You can read the entire verdict here (Hebrew). The part quoted is on pages 38-39.

It is interesting to note that Beinisch didn’t write the entire verdict. Even though, it was extremely important for her to add this statement to the verdict, thus making it clear that in the court’s view, Israel is only taking “security measures” in the West Bank, and those cannot and should not be labeled as “Apartheid” or racial policy of any sort.

In my opinion, this is another example of the ways the Supreme Court uses to legitimize the entire Israeli occupation. Any liberal person can agree with what Chief Justice Beinish is saying: after all, Israel did forbid from Palestinians to travel on highway 443 for security reasons, so why call it “Apartheid” when no one had racial discrimination in mind?

But the entire structure is false, and this is something the court is avoiding, and not for the first time: because if Israel hadn’t confiscate private Palestinian land for its own needs – in this case, the desire to divert Israeli traffic from the always-busy highway 1 – there was no need for all these “security measures” to begin with.

What Israel is doing, and this is something consistent to the entire occupation, is take something from the Palestinians, and when they revolt against it, punish them. Then the Supreme Court comes and rules that one punishment (say destroying some guy’s house) is ok, and the other – such as the security measures on highway 443 – isn’t. But the court always avoids the fact that the initial confiscation – which at the time had nothing to do with security – was wrongful and illegal.

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