Katz: 'Settler evictions defy Basic Law: Human Dignity'

National Union MK says he plans to sue all state authorities involved in evictions.

September 7, 2011 00:19
4 minute read.
Demolished house in Migron outpost in W. Bank

Migron Demolition 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) said he plans to sue all of the authorities involved in evicting settlers from the West Bank, following a Tuesday meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on the subject.

After the meeting addressing the eviction of 12 Samaria residents from the West Bank, Katz said he plans to bring Supreme Court justices, the State Attorney’s Office and the Jewish Division of the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, to court for violating Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

“When it becomes clear that none other than persecution and hatred of settlers is burning inside of you, and there is no rationale for the eviction orders, how will you defend yourselves?” Katz asked.

During the committee meeting, right-wing MKs complained of a double standard in law enforcement, and said settlers accused of crimes should be brought to court, and not evicted through administrative orders.

Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) said sarcastically: “These are right-wing people, and because they’re right-wing, and not Arabs, they don’t deserve civil rights.”

“If someone crossed the line or broke the law, ‘there are judges in Jerusalem,’” Katz said, quoting former prime minister Menachem Begin’s statements following a 1970s court case on the settlement of Beit El. “If someone did something wrong, bring them before a court of law.”

He added, “This is an embarrassment to the State of Israel, that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu is using the police to do bad things to the people of Israel.

“But of course, these are Jews, and Jews we can hurt.”

Katz said that the government is behaving similarly to “dark regimes that treated Jews in this terrible way” and compared the settlers’ situation to that of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Coalition chair Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine in 1990, took offense at the comparison.

“I was [in the Soviet Union] in relatively good times, and I can tell you that Israel is not there yet. This is a serious enough problem that we don’t need to use that rhetoric,” he quipped.

Elkin pointed out that the expulsions from the West Bank are carried out via administrative orders, “and nobody has to explain anything to anyone.

“People find that their whole lives have been turned upside down, and they weren’t given a chance to defend themselves.

They don’t even know what they’re defending themselves from,” he explained.

Elkin called for the State Attorney’s Office to give proof of a crime in court, before carrying out evictions.

Israel Police Legal Adviser Shaul Gordon insisted that “the legal status and enforcement are the same for Jews and non-Jews,” and told the committee that the police has “binders overflowing with information” on each person that is evicted.

“If there is so much information, why can’t it be brought to the courts?” MK Michael Ben- Ari (National Union) asked.

Rotem retorted: “They can, but then [the settlers] will be proven innocent, and they don’t want that.”

The Israel Beiteinu MK accused the State Attorney’s Office of basing its actions on “hearsay – one person told another person. You need proof, not rumors.”

MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) joined the right-wing MKs in their call to allow settlers to appear before a court before being evicted, but said that Palestinians should have the same right.

“I oppose the use of administrative orders,” she said. “I think the method is anti-democratic even when talking about right-wing people, but it is very commonly used against Palestinians.”

Gal-on added: “We should bring these people to justice, just like in a civilized state.

“I’d like to hear exactly what these people are accused of,” Gal-on stated, in reference to the evictees. “What I understand from the newspapers is that they are suspected of ‘price tag’ crimes.”

Akiva Hacohen, a recently evicted resident of Yitzhar, testified before the committee.

“I have five children, and I own a flour mill. Not only was I asked to leave my home, but I had to leave my business,” he said. “If I had received damages, it would have been somewhat of a comfort.”

Rotem asked Hacohen why he was evicted, and Hacohen responded “for security reasons.”

“What did you do?” Rotem asked, and received the reply: “I don’t know.” Rotem tried again: “I’m sure you know what you did wrong.”

“I grind flour and raise my children in an outpost,” was Hacohen’s answer. “Maybe that’s considered dangerous.”

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