Entry permits should be granted to Palestinians seeking to participate in a joint Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony, the High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday, accepting a petition against the decision of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to deny them access.
The court determined that the almost 150 memorial service participants should be allowed to enter Israel pending individual review and security checks.
High Court Justice Yitzhak Amit noted that while the binational ceremony is viewed negatively by segments of the Israeli public and some bereaved families, others, including citizens who had lost loved ones, identified with the contents of the joint ceremony.
"No side in the Israeli public has a monopoly on the way in which an entire family is allowed to express their grief and pain on Remembrance Day," said Amit. "Each person will act according to his beliefs, each person with his grief, pain and brokenness, each in his own way."
The Defense Ministry's position
The Defense Ministry did not present or explain its position on the matter to the court, and didn't request to appear before the court, according to Justice Alex Stein. Stein said that there was consequently no option but to accept the petition, which had been filed on Wednesday by event organizer Combatants for Peace and the NGO Parents Circle-Families Forum.
Justice Yael Willner noted that the Defense Ministry chose not to present its position despite the Attorney-General's letter saying that it should do so. Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara had offered her position on Friday afternoon in support of the petitioners, and said that the Defense Ministry had been made aware of all the legal issues involved in its denial of permits, but had declined to change its position.
Gallant on April 13 had declined the permits, saying that there was a blanket closure of the West Bank. The closure is set to continue through Remembrance Day and Independence Day and be lifted on April 26 at midnight.
Both the NGOs and the Attorney-General’s Office had noted that Gallant's decision was in contradiction with two previous rulings in 2018 and 2019 in favor of granting permits to participating Palestinians. Blanket closures had also been leveled in these cases. Baharav-Miara noted the security justification didn't hold up to scrutiny, as thousands of Palestinians were given entry into the country during the period.
The joint Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony is set to be the 18th annual memorial. According to the Wednesday petition, about 4,000 Israelis and 180 Palestinians were invited and registered to attend the service.