High Court Rejects Petition Against Palestinian Prisoner Release

'With all due understanding for the petitioners’ pain,' there is no legal pretext for the court's intervention, says judge.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition against next week’s scheduled release of a third batch of Palestinian prisoners, 26 in number.

“With all due understanding for the petitioners’ pain, their petition doesn’t raise any legal pretext for our intervention,” wrote Deputy Supreme Court President Miriam Naor in her ruling. “The arguments it raises have been discussed and decided in the past, with regard to this very same government decision.”

Naor was referring to petitions by Almagor, the Terror Victims Association, against the first and second prisoner releases, in August and October, respectively.

Under the agreement that restarted Israeli-Palestinian talks in July, Israel promised to release four batches of prisoners altogether over the course of the nine months of talks. In those cases, and again in this one, the court found that such a decision is within the government’s authority, and that no egregious flaws were found in the decision-making process that could justify court intervention.

The current petition was filed by five members of the Schijveschuurder family, who lost five other members of their family in the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. One of the terrorists responsible for that attack, Ahlam Tamimi, was freed in the 2011 exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, while two others remain in jail. According to the petition, ever since her release, Tamimi has been inciting other Palestinians to murder Israelis.

The petition asked the court to order the government both to reconsider its decision to free the current batch of prisoners, whose identities haven’t yet been announced, and to set clear criteria for any future release of terrorists.

The state said in its response that a date for the third release hasn’t yet been set, but it is expected to happen in the coming days.

Haaretz reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce Israel's plans for new housing tenders in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem next week, following the release of the third group of Palestinian prisoners.

According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu did not heed the United States' request to postpone the announcement of the new tenders, and rejected warnings by the European Union on the matter.

Demonstrators protest outside of the Prime Minister's Office ahead of the cabinet vote on the prisoner release.Credit: Emil Salman
Palestinian relatives celebrate while waiting for the release of Palestinian prisoner at the checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Hanoun between north of Gaza Strip and Israel, Oct. 29, 2013. Credit: AP



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