REUVEN Rivlin 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Knesset)
Nine High Court justices on Sunday discussed a petition requesting that the
“Disengagement Pardons Law” be repealed on the grounds that it is
The legislation was submitted to the previous Knesset by
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and passed a year and a half ago by a vote of 51
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According to the law, those arrested and charged during
ant-disengagement protests in 2005 would be pardoned for all but the most severe
The law applies to all those without prior criminal
The Pardons Law is not the first time the government has
declared an amnesty of this kind: both in 1949, after the War of Independence,
and in 1967, after the the Six Day War, the Knesset passed general pardon laws
that granted clemency to most non-dangerous criminals.
Rivlin had dubbed
the law necessary to heal the rift of the “national trauma” of the disengagement
and to help “correct the injustice that was dealt to the [Gaza] evacuees, who
paid the price of democracy in the heaviest manner possible.”
As soon as
the Pardons Law was approved by the Knesset, 12 left-wing activists submitted a
petition to the High Court calling for it to be annulled. The activists – some
of whom had been detained during protests against the eviction of Arabs from
homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem – said the law
discriminated against those arrested on similar offenses in different
In Sunday’s High Court hearing, the lawyer representing the 12
petitioners, Yifrah Cohen, said that the Pardons Law was discriminatory because
rather than the general pardons of 1949 and 1967, it applied only to a very
specific group of people and was linked with a very specific
“[There should not be] laws for specific events. Just like in the
past, the law should apply to everyone, to help pick up the pieces for
everyone,” he said.
“Why create a law whose scope is so very limited?”
Cohen later asked.
In response to the petition, the state’s attorneys
said that the law was created to heal a rift caused by an unprecedented event in
the country’s history and noted that it will apply to only 1,483 people,
including around 300 minors. Of these, only 80 had requested to apply the
Among those to whom the Pardons Law applies is Moshe Leshem, a
retired IDF colonel arrested during an anti-disengagement protest in Kfar Darom.
Leshem asked that he be added as a respondent to the High Court
Attorney Nadav Haetzni, who is representing Leshem, told The
Jerusalem Post that the Pardons Law was a partial attempt to address the injury
caused to those who had protested against the disengagement.
response to the petition, he argues that the anti-disengagement protesters were
subjected to special enforcement procedures, above and beyond those usually
directed against those demonstrating against other issues.
procedures were, quite simply, draconian, insane and anti-democratic,” said
Haetzni, who added that the procedures for dealing with anti-disengagement
protesters had been formulated in partial secrecy.
Haetzni said that
Leshem’s arrest and detention were an example of those “extreme measures”
employed by the government to deal with anti-disengagement
“All Moshe Leshem did was to stand on a roof, wave an Israeli
flag and shout slogans through a loudspeaker,” Haetzni said. “If he had done the
exact same thing in any other protest – such as the doctors’ protest in Ramat
Gan last week, or the protests in Sheikh Jarrah – the police would just have
asked him to move aside. In Leshem’s case, he was arrested and held in detention
for six days.”
Haetzni said that the 12 petitioners were “left-wing
extremists who have no legal basis for their claims, but just want to cause
provocation,” and added that he is reasonably optimistic that the High Court
will not annul the Pardons Law.
Attorney Dana Zilber, representing Moshe
Leshem, told the court that the Pardons Law had been enacted in response to an
exceptional and extraordinary event, and that it applied to people who had no
In these conditions, Zilber said that it “is not
illegitimate for the state to implement a process of hessed [grace].”
ruling in the case is expected within several months at most.Ron
Friedman contributed to this report.
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