Erekat: IDF in West Bank an invalid legal system

When asked about the compromise suggestion at a conference held by the Palestine-Israel Journal in Jerusalem, he called it “playing around with” an inherently invalid legal system.

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May 19, 2016 00:19
2 minute read.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat late on Tuesday rejected a compromise for resolving disputes over the IDF’s West Bank courts and over alleged dual unequal legal systems for Jews and Palestinians living there by adding foreign observers to IDF West Bank courts.

When asked by The Jerusalem Post about the compromise suggestion at a conference held by the Palestine-Israel Journal in Jerusalem, he called it “playing around with” an inherently invalid legal system, instead of trying to take apart that system as should be done.

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The idea was suggested to the Post in discussions with a top defense lawyer for Palestinians about what changes might be viewed as improving the objectivity of the courts short of abolishing them – as is traditionally demanded by the Palestinian side.

Mostly, the Palestinian side sticks to the claim that Israeli military courts trying them inherently violates their sovereign rights. They say this is especially true, since Jews living in the West Bank are brought to trial in Israeli civilian courts.

But the lawyer had framed the idea as a possible improvement, since the courts would likely continue to be a reality for the foreseeable future.

Erekat responded to the compromise idea, saying, “It’s not about... the Geneva Conventions or international law. There was a law invented [by Israel], the law of getting away with it. Everyone hears and sees what Israel is doing to the Palestinians over 50 years,” he continued, repeating that “the real law” is getting away with violating Palestinian rights.

The PLO secretary-general also recounted his personal experience with the West Bank Courts when he was arrested and brought before an IDF court in Nablus in 1987.

He said that his lawyers were fined NIS 1,500 for asking the court a question about his case, and said the courts are the “tools of apartheid.”

Putting on a more positive spin, he added, “in the long run, Palestinians and Israelis are destined to live together in peace and security.”

Erekat’s response had been predicted by a variety of current and former Israeli officials who also rejected the compromise idea for a variety of reasons, including their seemingly accurate prediction that the Palestinians would never accept the idea.

For example, former West Bank IDF judge Ahron Mishnayot poured cold water on the idea in discussions with the Post. He said that it is “completely unrealistic” and that the Palestinians would never do it.


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