Netanyahu ordered evacuation of Hebron home over fears of war crimes suits (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Chaim Levinson 05/14/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the evacuation of a Hebron
home taken by settlers last month after being informed that the
expropriation of Palestinian homes and lands could complicate Israeli
officials in war crimes litigation, Haaretz learned on Sunday.
Last month, Israeli security forces evacuated Israeli settlers from a
house in a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron, in a surprise move
that ended an affair that sparked controversy across Israel and
caused a rift in the government.
Senior officials in the prime minister´s office said at the time that
the evacuation was carried out after careful coordination between the
defense minister and the prime minister. Nevertheless, Netanyahu´s
aides went on the defensive against right-wing criticism and said
that the premier had no choice but to approve the evacuation out of
security and legal consideration.
The aides said that during the late night discussion prior to the
evacuation no decisions were made regarding the immediate evacuation
of the house.
However, in a meeting between Netanyahu, Barak, and Attorney General
Yehuda Weinstein on the morning of the evacuation, the AG reportedly
presented his legal opinion, according to which a lack of strict
adherence to the law on the matter could complicate Israel in an
international legal crisis.
Weinstein reportedly told Netanyahu and Barak that the expropriation
of Palestinian land and homes, such as the Hebron takeover, could
lead to Israeli officials being indicted at the International
Criminal Court in The Hague.
Barak then claimed that the house must be evacuated before the
Passover holiday, which led to Netanyahu´s order to clear the Hebron
Sources in the Justice Ministry indicated that they fear the State of
Israel or Israeli officials could be charged by the ICC, in operation
since 2002. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupier
moving population into occupied land constitutes a war crime.
Weinstein also repeated his stance concerning the contentious Ulpana
Hill neighborhood of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
The AG also expressed his opinion concerning the kind of High Court-
bypassing laws suggested by some in the right in order to sanction
outposts and settlements found illegal by the court.
Weinstein reportedly expressed the legal system´s opposition to the
legislation of such laws and warned against what he said were the far-
reaching legal consequences of such legislation, since the High Court
is viewed around the world as a check maintaining the rule of law.
As of now, among the team of ministers dealing with the issue,
Netanyahu, Barak, and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya´alon oppose
such a law, citing, among other reasons, the AG´s opposition.
Education Minister Gideon Sa´ar, however, supports such legislation,
with the stance of new Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz not yet clear.
A spokesperson at the Justice Ministry refused to comment on the
Earlier Sunday, a ministerial legislation panel rejected a bill
geared at applying Israeli law on settlements in the West Bank,
following an intervention by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
The justice minister´s move came after it had become apparent that
the bill would pass the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, after
nine of the panel´s members indicated that they would back the
At that point, Neeman attempted to convince the bill´s initiator
Likud MK Miri Regev to postpone the vote to a later date, in a bid to
avert a head-on collision between Netanyahu´s government and the
administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
As a result of Regev´s continued insistence, Neeman made it clear
that it was Netanyahu´s position to vote against the bill, at which
point panel members reversed their original votes. (© Copyright 2012
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY