Israel’s High Court legalizes West Bank quarries


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court has legalized the operation of several quarries in the West Bank.

The opinion issued Monday stated that existing quarries may continue to operate, but that no new quarries can be established, according to the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which filed the lawsuit.

The court dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the 10 quarries should be allowed to continue to operate until a final-status agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians. Yesh Din had filed the lawsuit on the premise that international law requires that an occupying power not exploit the occupied territory’s natural resources to benefit itself.

The court said that Palestinian residents benefit from the quarries due to employment opportunities.

"Quarrying natural resources in an occupied territory for the economic benefit of the occupying state is pillage, and the court’s reasoning that a long-term occupation should be treated differently cannot legalize an economic activity that harms the occupied residents," Yesh Din’s legal advisor, attorney Michael Sfard, said.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2009 against the state and 11 Israeli companies that operate quarries in the West Bank. It called for a halt to all of the quarrying and mining activities by Israeli companies in the West Bank. The suit also demanded that no new concessions for quarries be issued, and that existing quarrying licenses not be extended.

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