ZOA Criticizes Israel’s High Court Decision Allowing Palestinians To Sue Israel For Losses Sustained In IDF Counter-Terrorism Operations — Nullifying Knesset Law
December 12, 2006

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Israeli High Court of Justice’s decision today which permits Palestinian Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to file lawsuits against Israel for damages sustained during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) counter-terrorist operations, thereby nullifying a 2005 Knesset law. This High Court ruling allows these lawsuits provided that the operations in question do not take place as part of a war. The Court ruling nullifies an amendment to the Civil Wrongs (Liability of the State) Law, passed by the Knesset on July 27, 2005, which granted the state broad immunity from lawsuits filed by civilians for damages suffered in the ongoing Palestinian Arab terrorist war against Jews and Israel. As a result, nearly 600 petitioners have announced that they intend to sue Israel, while an additional 550 suits currently frozen will be reopened ( Jerusalem Post, December 12).

Member of Knesset (MK) Michael Eitan (Likud) said that if the High Court continued to overrule laws, democracy in Israel would be wiped out, and the IDF would find it impossible to defend the country’s citizens ( Jerusalem Post, December 12). MK Zvi Hendel (National Union-National Religious Party) said that “The Supreme Court has once again forgotten that Israel is at war … Palestinian citizens are not innocent as long as they are sheltering murderers and cooperating with them … I suggest the court remember that, with all due respect, setting laws in Israel is the Knesset’s job. The Supreme Court cannot change democratic decisions with a single blow” ( Israel National News, December 12).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This appalling decision will harm the ability of the IDF to fight terrorists and thus defend the lives of Israeli civilians. Since Palestinian terrorist groups routinely break international law by operating from the midst of civilian areas, the State of Israel will find itself fighting lawsuits from any number of Palestinian Arab civilians who lose family members or who sustain property damage during IDF operations whose purpose is to protect Israeli from being maimed and murdered. The Court is operating in fantasy land by pretending that the on-going Palestinian Arab terrorist war that has claimed nearly 2,000 lives and wounded and maimed 15,000 more in six years is something other than a war. We urge Knesset Members to examine the on-going problem of Court decisions that overturn Knesset legislation and demand from Israel that which no other nation would demand of itself in similar wartime conditions, especially when the enemy is repeatedly and publicly stating its desire to destroy the Jewish state.”

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