Stop Debasing the High Court

Every child who learns about democracy in school knows that respecting court rulings is one of the cornerstones of a society based on laws, and anyone who dares to violate a court order will incur a fine or even a prison sentence. State institutions teach the public to obey legal rulings and take the necessary steps to follow them. It could therefore be expected, then, that public servants and state employees would serve as examples to demonstrate the scrupulous observance of court decisions.

Sadly, it seems state authorities have started a tradition of scorning rulings handed down by the court system's upper echelon. A memorandum written by former deputy attorney general Yehudit Karp cites nine instances in which the state evaded - or continues to evade - its responsibility to implement High Court edicts. The memo outlines how government ministries openly flout court decisions intended to assist disadvantaged sectors of Israeli society (such as Arab schoolchildren) denied their rightful portion of the state's budgetary pie.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch recently revealed that the Defense Ministry has not executed the 2006 High Court order to seal a vulnerable section of the West Bank separation fence, and took the opportunity to remind state authorities that Supreme Court rulings are more than mere recommendations.

Several weeks ago, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador demanded that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat immediately implement a court order to seal off and evacuate Beit Yonatan, a residential building in the contested East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Despite the total prohibition of elected officials interfering in issues related to law enforcement, the mayor continues to brazenly defy the court ruling and disregard the instructions issued by the State Prosecutor's Office.

The attorney general and state comptroller must exert their full influence to ensure that authorities immediately enforce the rulings outlined in the Karp report. The political leadership must take all necessary steps to put a stop to the disgrace of the court system and debasement of Israeli democracy. The prime minister and his cabinet would do well to internalize Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia's observation that "A country that does not implement court orders is a country sowing the seeds of chaos and anarchy."