The High Court of Justice - the bastion of Israeli democracy that is defending itself against forces attacking from within - once again proved Sunday how strong and necessary it is. Only a few weeks after it ruled that the Tal Law, which authorized ultra-Orthodox evasion of service in the Israel Defense Forces, was invalid, it rejected on Sunday the compromise that the government, via Minister Benny Begin, had reached with settlers in Migron who have squatted on privately owned land.
The compromise was a smart-alecky way to circumvent the law: It determined that the settlers would evacuate their outpost and move to an adjacent hill, but only in another three-and-a-half years; meanwhile, they could stay where they are.
Israel, speaking Sunday through the voices of the High Court, refused to reconcile itself to this attempt to circumvent the law. Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis joined Justices Miriam Naor and Salim Joubran in rejecting the Begin formula. Migron, said Naor, is "one of the toughest and most exceptional instances when it comes to the issue of illegal outposts. It sits on extensive lands that are under private and registered Palestinian ownership."
The law, therefore, demands the settlers' removal, and the argument that enforcing the law would cause disturbances was rebuffed by the justices.
The court essentially refused to capitulate to the settlers' threats, and determined that despite the desire to reach an agreement for peaceful evacuation, that cannot be "the sole and determining consideration, which totally overwhelms the considerations of undermining private ownership and the rule of law."
If the Begin formula had been proposed and adopted five years ago, the interim period would have passed and the damage done to the petitioners - the owners of the land - would be done already. But the settlers tried every possible trick to buy more and more time, knowing they were dealing with a friendly government that has been acting as if it were dependent on their votes in the Likud primary or in the general elections for the Knesset.
On Sunday, the High Court of Justice brought this ugly story to an end.
It's to be expected that the Migron residents will resume their threats to violently resist evacuation. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, OC Central Command Nitzan Alon and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino must submit to the court's ruling and prepare for the evacuation in August, without any evasion or delay.
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