ANALYSIS / A State Within a State Has Arisen in the Territories

A new custom has come to the country: High Court rulings are one thing, reality is another.

It did not happen yesterday, it will not happen today, and in the near future it is not about to happen. The High Court of Justice did pronounce judgment at the beginning of the week, ordering the evacuation of the disputed house in Hebron within three days. But the rulings of the court have recently become rulings for the Messiah to deal with when he comes - who takes them seriously? The still, small voice of the High Court had only just spoken, and the Justice Ministry lawyers were running to their minister with wise advise how not to undertake the evacuation; the advisers know the situation and the soul of their minister.

A new custom has come to the country: High Court rulings are one thing, reality is another. One has not the slightest thing to do with the other: The settlements and the outposts are planted firmly in place and refuse to be uprooted; private land of Palestinians is being freely robbed; whole neighborhoods born in sin are being populated; homes that have been stolen are filling with people; a brazen fence stands according to its original, arbitrary plan with only minimal changes.

A state within a state has arisen in the territories; it is standing up to the country that created it and is overcoming it. "The state today is the enemy of the people of Israel," some people defiantly said Thursday in Hebron.

In London at the British Parliament, President Shimon Peres also presented a harsh vision: Israel will find it difficult to evacuate the settlements without civil war, he said. What he meant was that those who want peace with our neighbors based upon the "Beirut Declaration" should get ready for war with our settlers based on a declaration of independence. But to judge from the experience of the past 41 years, including the personal and unfortunate experience of Peres himself, it is entirely unclear who will win this war - the State of Israel or the destroyers who come forth from it.

And yet, it is good that there are judges in Jerusalem who can be a target for the arrows of hatred and rebellion; it is good that there is someone at whom to spew venom. "Sodom also had its judges," the rabbis of the settlements recalled this week, who for some reason have still not been defined as soldiers of one of the crime families. "If the High Court wants a collision, it will get a collision," they warned.

The government therefore has to decide who it fears most - the judges or the settlers. By default, it has actually decided. On Sunday the ministers will once again pound the cabinet table: We will under no circumstances come to terms with this, they will say as usual. We have decided to uproot the wild weeds. All who hear will laugh, or cry.

Not only did they not evacuate the disputed house, they did not even dream of evacuating it. From the outset came a statement from "an official in the Central Command" - a student of the Bible, that this week's Torah Portion is "Life of Sarah" and how can Jews be evacuated by force only two days before the portion is read that tells the story of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs. It is interesting to know what pretext the army would have invented if Sarah the Matriarch had died a few weeks earlier or later. Happy are we to have have officers like these, who combine the Good Book with the sword, and show more awareness and sensitivity to Israel's ancient heritage than to High Court President Dorit Beinisch and to those with her in this matter on the bench, justices Ayala Procaccia and Salim Jubran.

Elections are around the corner. In three months Daniel Friedmann will no longer be justice minister. Blessed be He who freed us of that burden and of his contentiousness, but who did not free us from his legacy. Friedmann is the only minister in this government whose deep impression on it will not so quickly disappear. And still, he does not rest on his packed bags: This week he proposed a bill that limits the authority of the High Court to intervene in "security, diplomatic and budgetary issues." As if there are other issues in which to intervene.