JERUSALEM (Jan. 12)
Taking the defense establishment here by surprise, Israel’s High Court of Justice has ordered deportation hearings for 12 Palestinians to be held in open court.
As a result of the ruling Sunday, defense officials have postponed the hearings until further notice, meaning that the deportation orders will not be implemented before the Arab-Israeli peace talks resume in Washington on Monday.
The 12 Palestinians were ordered expelled by Defense Minister Moshe Arens on Jan. 2, a day after a Jewish settler was murdered by an Arab gunman in the Gaza Strip.
The U.N. Security Council “strongly condemned” Israel’s action in a unanimous vote Jan. 6.
The deportees, exercising their right under Israeli law, petitioned the military appeals board in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to reverse the defense minister’s orders.
At the same time, with the aid of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, they asked the High Court to intervene to make the hearings public.
That is a rare phenomenon in the military legal system that operates in the administered territories. The state prosecution argued against open hearings, on the grounds that they would create “security and technical difficulties.”
But the justices ruled that those considerations “did not justify bending the principle of open proceedings, which is a basic value of our society.”