An end to anti-Yesha judicial warfare?

New law would end use of Israeli courts against Judea and Samaria residents, take away High Court's power to rule on property disputes.

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Tzvi Lev,

Supreme Court (file)
Supreme Court (file)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A bill forcing property lawsuits in Judea and Samaria to be adjudicated by the Jerusalem District Court, rather than by the High Court of Justice, was approved by the ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday.

The bill, which is sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), would if passed cause a dramatic change in property litigation. Currently, all property disputes in Judea and Samaria are brought to the High Court of Justice, whose left-leaning bent often leads rulings skewed against the residents.

Shaked has said in the past that she wants to achieve three goals in the bill. The first is the normalization of Judea and Samaria and Israeli towns in the area.

The second is the end to the discrimination that is applied to residents of Judea and Samaria who do not "merit" like the other residents of the state to settle land disputes in district and magistrate courts for regular civil and criminal cases. The third reason is to reduce the burden on the Supreme Court, which today deals with about 2,000 proceedings on this matter alone per year, hundreds of which are filed by Palestinian Arabs who have appealed against demolition orders for illegal construction.

In addition, Shaked proposes transferring additional powers from the Supreme Court to administrative courts, including petitions for freedom of information, petitions against decisions to enter and leave Israel, and the hearings for restraining orders.

The significance of the move is that petitions filed by leftist organizations and Arabs claiming land ownership will have to meet the rigorous standards of veracity required by the local courts that are not required by the Supreme Court.

The move was praised by the Regavim NGO, who said that the law would help rein in the Supreme Court's judicial activism. "This will enable courts to actually reach the truth, it will reduce the burden from the High Court of Justice and save it from politicization," said Regavim in a statement.

Regavim added that under the current arrangement, "hundreds of petitions are filed each year by Palestinians who abuse the judicial process."