Court rejects Schalit family petition

High Court of Justice refuses to tie talks kidnapped IDF soldier to conditions of Hamas cease-fire.

Gilad Schalit 298 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 298 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected the petition filed by Aviva and Noam Schalit but recommended that the security cabinet discuss again the question of Gilad Schalit's release from captivity in the Gaza Strip. In their petition, the Schalits called for the security cabinet to meet again. They charged that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had misled the other members of the security cabinet into thinking that Schalit's release was part of the cease-fire agreement with Hamas brokered by Egypt. The court did not order the government to hold another meeting to discuss Schalit and the cease-fire agreement, but wrote that it had been led to understand that the government intended to do so. "We would like to say again that we believe the security cabinet should rediscuss the specific topic of Gilad Schalit so that the decisions [with regard to him] will be clear to all the relevant parties and to prevent misunderstandings," wrote Justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel and Elyakim Rubinstein. "We will not hide the fact that we considered issuing a show-cause order to that effect as requested by the petitioners, but decided not to because of the undesirable implications of such a step, and our understanding that even without a court order, the security cabinet will meet again to discuss its decision." The petitioners' lawyers, Ariel Bendor, Eldad Yaniv and Sharon Stein, welcomed the decision. "The decision constitutes the first important success in the struggle to bring Gilad Schalit home," they said. "The High Court wrote that it understood from the government that it intends to hold an immediate meeting regarding the abducted soldier Gilad Schalit. The aim of the petition was to make it clear that from now on, the government will have to prove in deeds, not only in words, that it is working ceaselessly to bring Gilad home." Meanwhile, Noam Schalit, who heard of the court's ruling while on his way home to Mitzpeh Hila in Upper Galilee, said he preferred to study the decision before issuing a reaction. "I have to see exactly what the decision is," he said. On Tuesday morning, the Schalits' lawyers informed the High Court that despite their having met with Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau, they insisted on pressing their petition. The petitioners had asked the court to issue an interim injunction to freeze the cease-fire agreement with Hamas and not open the four Israeli-Gaza border crossings until the court ruled on the main demands of the petition. These included dropping the agreement unless Schalit was released and holding another meeting of the security cabinet in which it would be made clear to the ministers that Schalit was not included in the cease-fire agreement. The court made it clear that it wanted to discuss the petition in depth, which would have required issuing a temporary injunction in the meantime. However, the state refused to agree. In the end, the court backed down and rejected the petition without an in-depth hearing, but made it clear that it believed the security cabinet should discuss the issue again and that this time all the information regarding Schalit should be presented clearly and unequivocally.