'State Has 90 Days to Justify Amnesty Law for Gaza Pullout Protesters'

High Court rules amnesty law for Gaza disengagement protesters harms equality after demonstrators arrested in Sheikh Jarrah file petition.

The Supreme issued an injunction on Sunday ordering the state to provide justification within 90 days to prevent the court from overturning a law which protects settlers arrested during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza.

A police officer removing a demonstrator during a protest in Sheikh Jarrah

According to Supreme Court justices Dorit Beinisch, Asher Dan Grunis and Uzi Vogelman, the law, which provides amnesty to non-violent demonstrators who were arrested during the disengagement, harms the principles of equality.

The court issued the injunction in response to a petition filed on behalf of 12 protesters arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, who claim that left-wing demonstrators are discriminated against.

The amnesty law stipulates that any sentences handed down in court against anyone convicted of a crime whose motive was to thwart the disengagement plan be promptly suspended.

In addition, legal proceedings against anyone who was indicted would also be stopped. The law applies primarily to criminal offenses in which there was no risk of loss of life.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs argued that each group within Israeli society has its own ethos, and that there is no difference between a protest against the evacuation of Israeli Jews from Gaza and that of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.

"Leftists are unfairly discriminated against," said attorneys Omer Schatz and Yiftach Cohen, "and we are looking forward to the cancellation of the [amnesty] law."

A human rights group in the West Bank responded by saying, "The High Court justices have once again proved that democracy, as well as the public's trust in the court, are not factors in their eyes."

The settlers' group went on to say that the court insists on working toward the law's cancellation, despite it having been approved by all factions with the exception of Meretz and Arab parties, and that it is fitting the ruling came down during the week marking the fifth anniversary of the disengagement.