Israeli Lawmakers to Fight Palestinians' 'Legal Intifada' With Higher Court Fees

Lawmaker from Netanyahu's Likud gain allies in move to triple fee for Palestinians filing Israeli High Court petitions

Likud MK Yoav Kish (left) and coalition whip David Bitan in the Knesset, November 27, 2017.
Emil Salman

Calling Palestinian petitions to the High Court of Justice a “legal intifada,” lawmakers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to raise the fees Palestinians and those representing them must pay to petition Israel's top court.

Yoav Kish, a lawmaker from the Likud, has rallied a group of Knesset members sitting on the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to triple the filing fee that Palestinians pay to petition the High Court.

The coalition members on the committee want to raise the filing fee from 1,786 shekels ($510) to 5,400 shekels for Palestinians or organizations representing them. The move is intended to reduce the number of High Court petitions filed by Palestinians or Israeli organizations that file in their name.

The issue is to come up for discussion during the committee’s meeting on Wednesday, as part of a discussion of fees for filing class action suits. If Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the committee support the move, a regulation will be instituted stating the new fee and it will go into immediate effect.

According to Kish, more than 1,000 petitions are filed every year by or for Palestinians. “Raising the fee for people who are not Israeli citizens is intended to prevent or and reduce the phenomenon of legal attrition and put a more significant threshold of seriousness in place for suits of this kind.”

Shaked is currently against the fee hike. However, Kish yesterday signed six of the coalition members with voting rights on the committee on a document calling for the filing fee to be raised. In addition to Kish, the signators were Miki Zohar and Nurit Koren (Likud), Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu), Tali Ploskov (Kulanu), Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) and Michael Malkieli (Shas). MK Benny Begin (Likud) refused to sign the document. The two Habayit Hayehudi members of the committee, Nissan Slomiansky and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, did not sign. Their fellow party member MK Bezalel Smotrich, who does not have voting rights on the committee, signed in their place.

The official wording of the document is ambiguous, and notes that the fee would be raised for “petitions to the High Court of Justice by persons who are not Israeli citizens or for persons who are not Israeli citizens, except for a petition involving aliyah to Israel or receiving citizenship.”

“I hope members of Habayit Hayehudi on the committee, first and foremost Minister Ayelet Shaked, will support the proposal so that on Wednesday we can add the amendment to the agenda and approve it in the committee,” Kish told Haaretz.