JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court overruled a decision by the Defense Ministry to deny the entry of bereaved Palestinians to enter Israel for an annual joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial service ahead of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
The Tel Aviv ceremony commemorates fighters on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The ruling Monday condemned the Defense Ministry for denying the request after the court overturned a similar decision last year. It called the denial ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, “unreasonable” and “disproportionate.”
The three-judge panel also ordered that a minimum of 90 permits be issued for Palestinian participants. Some 176 Palestinians have asked to be allowed to enter Israel to participate in this year’s program.
Netanyahu criticized the ruling.
“The High Court of Justice is wrong and disappointing,” he said in a statement. “There is no place for a memorial ceremony comparing the blood of our people and that of terrorists. This is why I refused to allow the ceremony participants to enter and I believe the High Court should not have intervened in my decision,”
The applications were denied last week, with the Defense Ministry saying that the requests were rejected due to the closure imposed on the West Bank ahead of Memorial Day and Independence Day, which follows a day later.
The ceremony, in its 14th year, is scheduled to be held on the eve of Memorial Day, May 7, in Hayarkon Park. More than 7,000 people participated last year.