Rule of law emerges victorious

Yesterday, the Israel High Court of Justice ordered the government to reroute a section of its separation barrier that had split the West Bank village of Bilin from much of its farmland.

The panel of three judges ruled unanimously that a mile-long section of the barrier should be redrawn and rebuilt in a “reasonable period of time.” Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in the ruling, “We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands.”

About 500 acres of the villagers’ farmland had been rendered difficult to access as a result of the construction of the security barrier. Two years ago, the local council hired prominent Israeli human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, to petition the High Court on their behalf. This is of course, not the first time that such a petition has met with success. The situation in Bilin is particularly noteworthy due to the weekly protests held there by “a band of Israeli far-leftists and foreign supporters.” These “non-violent” vigils have often ended in violent clashes with Israeli security forces.

Jonathan Pollack, of Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli group that participated in the protests, said the decision “proved that the people, when they choose to act, have the power over Israeli institutions.”

It’s kind of odd that Pollack would attribute any aspect of this victory to his group’s actions. The judgment of the High Court makes no reference to the activities of the anarchists. The victory did not come about due to the weekly, often violent “vigils.” The victory did not come about because of name calling and rock throwing. It came about due to the hiring of lawyers and due to the enforcement and application of Israeli law. The anarchists did not win anything here. The rule of law did.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I said this once if not a 1000 times. And I’ll say it again. If the PA and various terror groups ever gave up the gun, took up the pen and started on a full ‘court strategy’ instead of a death & terror one, they’d not only come away with more land, it would be a relatively quicker recourse too. They’d live to see the fruits of their victory, instead of dying for a distant forlorn dream. ‘Stratergy’ so few people really understand it! Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • rule of law? so modin illit represents a triumph of the rule of law? dont kid yourself; over 100 cases against the fence have been lost by palestinians. 2 of the four that won had huge protest movements. pure coincidence, huh?

  • Nice try. As the justices explained very clearly, the situation in Bilin had nothing to do with security considerations and everything to do with securing land for the proposed expansion of modiin. There were no pressing security issues, hence the judgment went in favor of Bilin. Those stupid self-styled limousine anarchists had nothing to do with this victory.

  • I am continually impressed be the free and forward thinking minds that make up the Israeli Supreme Court. They are about the only good thing that is going on in Israeli government.

  • Sorry … double tapped on accident. Some moderator will hopefully delete it …

  • yes, ck, it was an act of the munificent zionist gods. The court giveth, and the court taketh away. justice, as long as you dont ask for it ten years too late for the court’s liking:

    Supreme Court decides to launder Matityahu East
    Nir Shalev

    In a technical and laconic verdict given today (Sept 5, 2007), the Supreme Court (Judges Na’or, Rivlin and Prokachya) rejected the petitions of the village of Bil’in and Peace Now against the construction of the Matityahu East neighbourhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit (HCJ 143/06, 1526/07). Judge Na’or, who wrote the verdict, stated that all the building in the compound was illegal. However, she and her colleagues decided not to intervene with the decision of the High Planning Board in Beit El to approve the new plan for the neighbourhood, which will launder almost all the illegal building done and will allow many more buildings to be erected. The almost exclusive argument for rejecting the petitions: timing. Thus, without looking into the substance of the arguments of the plaintiffs, the Court decided to reject the petitions saying that these arguments should have been put forward back in 1998, when the first plan for the neighbourhood was deposited, and not now. It is clear from the verdict that the judges used almost every possible technical excuse in order to refrain from dealing with the arguments of the plaintiffs. Had these arguments been accepted, a revolution in the planning system of the Civil Administration would have been necessary.

    In many respected, today’s verdict contradicts yesterday’s verdict on the barrier (HCJ 8414/05).

    And yet, given the fact that according to Court the first petition (143/06) was fully justified, they ordered the respondents to pay the plaintiffs expenses at 160,000 shekels.