Sfard on Israeli Supreme Court ruling on Migron outpost: ‘It’s Our Brown v. Board’

MichLawyer web 1
Human Rights Lawyer Michael Sfard

The ongoing battle to prevent the dismantlement of the illegal outpost of Migron took a nosedive on Sunday as Netanyahu’s ‘solution’ of extending the delay for years into the future was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court, giving the settlers only thru August 1st 2012 to move out.

Legendary human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, representing six Palestinian petitioners who are registered owners of the land Migron occupies, was celebrating on Sunday.

AP:

JERUSALEM—The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejected the state’s request to postpone dismantling a large, unsanctioned West Bank settler enclave until late 2015, dealing a serious blow to settler hopes to keep dozens of rogue outposts standing.

The ruling could ignite a violent showdown with settlers, who have vowed in the past not to abandon their hilltop stronghold, Migron. Settler leader Shimon Riklin, one of the enclave’s founders, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that the evacuation of Migron “would not pass quietly.”

“The residents of Migron received today the harsh court ruling, which is based on the false claim of privately held land, and whose objective is the expulsion of peace-loving people,” said Migron spokesman Itai Chemo.

Attorney Michael Sfard, who represented the Palestinian landowners in court, welcomed the ruling and said he had no problem with the court’s agreement to extend the evacuation deadline to Aug. 1.

Marc Tracy interviews Michael Sfard at Tablet ‘It’s Our Brown v. Board

Congratulations.

I’m very … happy’s not the right word, but content. I think the ruling is important. The danger of an opposite ruling was really a big threat, because in some way Migron became Israel’s 21st-century test of whether we really uphold the rule of law and whether any communities amongst Israeli society is above the law. And I did feel, while litigating the case, that there was a huge clash between the executive and the judiciary here, and the question of who will prevail is extremely important here, not just for Migron.

Do you trust the government to abide by and implement the decision? Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would.

I don’t want to sound naive, but I truly believe that there are enough forces among Israeli society that would not allow the government to disobey a clear, final, and binding ruling of the highest court in our land. If I’m wrong, then on Aug. 2 Israel would not be the same country. It’s our Brown v. Board of Education. That case was about equality and integration, but I don’t mean that: I’m referring to the question of the importance of implementing final court decisions, and the analogy is that I hope our government will send the National Guard, or the equivalent, to make sure.

Why is Migron especially important?
It’s the biggest outpost in the West Bank. It houses the sons and daughters of the leadership of the settler movement. Migron is a flagship outpost in size and in coming from the aristocracy of the settlers.

…………

Some have said the Knesset can step in and prevent Migron’s evacuation. How does that work?

It’s difficult for me to explain it to myself. It’s a bit like children, when they are not happy with something, saying, “I’ll call my big brother, and he will show you.” When the court decided, the right wing said we will legislate in a way that will free us from this decision. The problem is that to circumvent the court decision by legislation, it must apply to the West Bank. Israeli legislation does not apply to the West Bank! Israel has never annexed or applied Israeli law to the West Bank. The Knesset doesn’t exercise jurisdiction over the West Bank. Even if it did, the kind of legislation needed would nationalize land, private property. That is not something that is constitutional. In the small number of exceptions that it is legal, it’s for very important public interests. There’s no public interest here, there’s only private interest. This is a bundle of nonsense.

Perhaps Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his settler cohorts were in cranky moods when they severed ties with UN Human Rights Council yesterday after Sunday’s Israeli Supreme Court decision. And whether the proposed establishment of an international investigative committee on the West Bank settlements added an air of pressure we will never know. But in the ongoing saga of events surrounding the Migron affair, this is indeed a positive turn of events.

I recommend the remainder of Tablet’s interview with Sfard.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Nakba, Occupation

{ 20 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Cliff says:

    He says:

    I don’t want to sound naive, but I truly believe that there are enough forces among Israeli society that would not allow the government to disobey a clear, final, and binding ruling of the highest court in our land.

    Didnt Israel legalize torture? Didn’t the IDF try to get human shielding tactics legalized?

    • Hostage says:

      Didnt Israel legalize torture? Didn’t the IDF try to get human shielding tactics legalized?

      The former President of the Supreme Court, Justice Barak, advised the government to adopt legislation authorizing GSS personal to conduct investigations using physical pressure. link to mondoweiss.net

      IIRC the IDF first argued they didn’t use human shields, then when the Court was ready to grant an injunction, it changed its tune and swore it would result in increased casualties if soldiers couldn’t continue using the existing “neighbor policy”.

      FYI, Michael Sfard is one of the legal advocates that has normally represented The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha, HaMoked, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Bimkom, and other groups in these High Court of Justice cases.

    • cliff, i recommend the ‘legendary’ link in the main text. a really really good interview.

  2. Hostage says:

    Of course the strange thing is the stoney silence from the Middle East Quartet on this subject, while all of this has been going on. Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Hamas has failed to accept the Quartet (the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia) conditions for international recognition of a Palestinian government. Whenever anyone suggests that Bibi reciprocate by accepting the Quartet conditions, he throws a tantrum and jumps on a plane to Washington.

    Here are two of his obligations:
    A performance-based roadmap to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
    Phase I
    *GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

    *Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
    link to news.bbc.co.uk

    • hostage, initially when i drafted this post it was a combination/half of it was the “severed ties with UN Human Rights Council “. all along i have sensed the pressure coming from the EU and the UN starting to build last fall after the quartet asked both sides to turn into their proposals and israel balked and refused. after the EU turn in their report (and they just turned in another one recently) netanyahu called them ‘irrelevant’ and stepped up the rhetoric is was the PA’s fault for the reconciliation between hamas and fatah that was their reasoning or their blame for the halt. when all along it has been the settlements and their refusal to ever even document a proposal.

      but, my draft was a little all over the map so i decided to cut it down and just mention the recent rejection of the UN human rights council at the end.

      but i think we potentially have a tiger by the tail here. there’s another post going up tomorrow but i really really believe this scream about iran is all about diverting from the corner israel has painted itself into with these settlements. i think the ‘window’ has closed. can it be reversed? that’s the zillion dollar question but i do not think israel can mask the kind of ethnic cleansing the next phase portends and i do not think the international community will stand still. so yes, the strange thing is the stoney silence from the Middle East Quartet on this subject, while all of this has been going on. lots and lots and lots of diversions.

      • LeaNder says:

        i decided to cut it down and just

        That was a good decision Annie. Such an immense success by Sfard shouldn’t be squeezed into related matter. It’s perfect as it is. The end adds a wonderfully ironic tone to the whole matter that somehow picks up on Sfard’s statement on children’s games.

        Good job, Annie, I liked the article on Goldberg too. Didn’t he tell us we would get an update this week?

        These were vertigo-inducing conversations, to say the least. Next week, I’ll discuss why, from Netanyahu’s perspective, a strike on Iran, even if only marginally successful, might be worth the risk — and may be historically inevitable

        Amazing, one single man

  3. clubroma says:

    The settlements are proof that Isreal is not interested in peace. Isreal uses the settlements to make peace impossible and to aggrivate and inflame the Palestinians.

  4. Pixel says:

    I’m not sure how, but this is never going to happen.

    • Pixel says:

      Frighteningly, the answer may be to attack Iran (read false flag).

      It would be the ultimate long-term distraction and would leave no troops “available” to implement this.

    • pixel, do you mean you do not believe they will ever dismantle migron?

      • seafoid says:

        I don’t think they will either. Israel is not ready to take out the settlers. It expects the Palestinians to give up. That is Plans A through to Z. History is full of compromises broken by power.

        • Hostage says:

          I don’t think they will either. Israel is not ready to take out the settlers.

          You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. If Israel can’t get rid of a shabby little trailer park without starting a civil war, then the claim that it can still negotiate the much bigger issues at stake is transparent bullsh*t. All of that is going to hit the fan two months before the elections here.

        • seafoid says:

          The settlers have captured the Israeli state . They will proceed to take down the judiciary.

        • Hostage says:

          The settlers have captured the Israeli state . They will proceed to take down the judiciary.

          I don’t know about that. The settlers used a lot of the right-wing’s political capital just to get the Grunis law adopted. He is the President of the Supreme Court who helped author this decision on Migron.

          It’s much more likely that Netanyahu will characterize the relocation of the outposts as the maximum “sacrifice” in order to obtain leverage that will allow him and the settlers to keep going like gangbusters everywhere else. He might even accept a wing of F-35 joint strike fighters to soften the blow if Obama promises to never bring up the subject of a freeze again.

        • seafoid says:

          Hostage

          Do you think the settlers will respect the decision of the supreme court? Did Zionism ever respect the authority of any court over its fetish for the land ?

        • Hostage says:

          Do you think the settlers will respect the decision of the supreme court? Did Zionism ever respect the authority of any court over its fetish for the land ?

          Surely. So long as they’re rewarded with construction permits everywhere else, and government subsidized relocation to nearby locales, they’ll gladly wink and raise hell. That way they get legalized and Bibi can tell the Quartet that further “sacrifices” threaten to collapse his coalition.

  5. lysias says:

    Brown v. Board, or Worcester v. Georgia?

    “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

    • interesting.

      Worcester may be seen as a prudential decision, for avoiding the possibility of political conflict between the Court and the Executive, while still delivering what appeared to be a pro-Indian decision.

    • Hostage says:

      Brown v. Board, or Worcester v. Georgia?

      Jefferson didn’t have the Quartet looking over his shoulder or Jewish donors that require a strong Supreme Court to protect their own minority rights.