Court Rejects Peace Now Petition to Outlaw Building of Settlements

Israel’s High Court of Justice has refused to rule whether settlements in the administered territories violate international law.

A petition filed two years ago by Peace Now, a coalition of peace activists in Israel, argued that any settlement not needed for security represents a clear violation of international law.

The petition also claimed that the settlements violate Israel’s democratic principles because of the inequitable treatment of Jewish settlers and their Arab neighbors in the territories.

But the court ruled last week that the petition “relates to matters of policy which are the province of the other branches of a democratic regime.”

Chief Justice Meir Shamgar indicated in his written opinion that if the petition had addressed the impact or injury of a specific settlement, that would have been a different case.

In rejecting Peace Now’s petition, Shamgar cited a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that courts should refrain from addressing issues of governmental policy.

Peace Now issued a statement saying it may request a second hearing.

“The political decisions should be left to the voters, but the courts are entrusted with deciding the legality of a political policy,” the statement said.

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