Gush Katif - Nir Kafri - February 2012
An anti-disengagement protester being removed from Gush Katif in 2005. Photo by Nir Kafri
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The High Court of Justice yesterday rejected a claim by left-wing activists that a law granting clemency to protesters resisting Israel's 2005 disengagement from Gaza unfairly favored right-wing demonstrators and discriminated against leftists.

The nine-judge panel of justices denied the petition filed by left-wing demonstrators by a vote of 8-1. The law in question provides a stay of proceedings and pardons for demonstrators guilty of relatively minor infractions in connection with the disengagement, through which Israel uprooted about 8,000 residents of Jewish settlements in Gaza and a small part of the West Bank.

In her majority opinion, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, who is retiring from the bench next week, called the disengagement from Gaza "a unique event in its force and scope."

Beinisch noted that Israelis moved to these settlements with the backing of the government and were then forced to disrupt their lives and move against their will. "There is no doubt that the backdrop of the violations of the law involved extraordinary circumstances," Beinisch wrote, also citing the bitter controversy the disengagement engendered among members of the Israeli public.

In reference to the division the issue created and what has been seen by many as the slow pace of resettling the evacuees, Beinisch wrote: "It's possible that this stems, in part, from the sense of frustration that the evacuees still have following their handling by the state after the events of the disengagement."

In his lone dissent, Justice Salim Joubran said that despite the division the issue created in the country, the law violated the principle of equality in singling out demonstrators who violated the law in connection with the disengagement and protesters who have broken the law in other circumstances.

Joubran, who is Arab, also made reference to rioting in Israeli-Arab communities in 2000 after the failure of an Arab-Israeli peace summit: "There is no justification for preferring healing the division created among the public as a result of the disengagement plan by pardoning those committing offenses related to it, over healing the division between the Jewish public and the Arab [public] against the backdrop of the events of October 2000."