High Court to reject petition calling for swap ammendment

Watchdog group calls on court to block implementation of swap until Hizbullah provides details on 12 missing Iranian Jews.

hizbullah border 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
hizbullah border 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
The High Court of Justice made it clear on Wednesday it will reject a petition filed by a watchdog organization calling on the government not to implement a single provision of the prisoner-exchange agreement with Hizbullah unless the organization provides information about 12 Iranian Jews who disappeared while trying to reach Israel. "The agreement is hermetically sealed," Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch told attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, who is representing the Iranian's families. "We have no intention of reopening it." However, Beinisch said the court would hand down its ruling later. Darshan-Leitner called on the court to order the state to demand "reliable and equally valuable information" from Iran regarding the 12 missing Jews in return for the information it was obliged by the prisoner exchange agreement to provide regarding the fate of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped by Christian Phalangists during the First Labanon War in 1982 War. In addition to arguing that the High Court did not intervene in matters of foreign policy, the state's representative, attorney Dina Zilber, said "the government is doing everything it can with the means at its disposal to try to obtain information about the missing 12. We must take into account the constraints stemming from the fact that Iran is an enemy country. The state does not have a solution, or a remedy, at least not at this time, for the pain and suffering of the families." Darshan-Leitner charged that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had not instructed his negotiator, Ofer Dekel, to raise the issue of the 12 missing Iranians with the Hizbullah via German mediator Gerhard Konrad. Furthermore, the prime minister did not raise the issue at Sunday's cabinet meeting that approved the prisoner exchange for the return of Eldad Regev and Uri Goldwasser, the two reserve soldiers taken hostage on July 12, 2006. "It is very possible that the ministers would have insisted on including the Iranian Jews," said Darshan-Leitner. "After all, their lives are at stake. It is also very possible that Iran would have agreed to release information on their fate." The 12 Jews disappeared between 1994 and 1997, apparently after being caught trying to escape from Iran and reach Israel. Darshan-Leitner told the court that according to witnesses, they were still alive. She said a Muslim neighbor of one of the alleged prisoners had left Iran and moved to California. From there, she contacted his family and said she had seen their son in jail. Irit Elhanan, who has two nephews among the disappeared, said after the hearing, "Why did they file this matter away and why didn't they think about it [during the prisoner exchange negotiations?] We are always running after the government, always pleading with them. I don't think anyone in the government thinks about these missing Jews. "No one deals with the matter, and if they do, it is low on their list of priorities."