Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weekly Commentary: Machpelah House and rule of law


Weekly Commentary: Machpelah House and rule of law

Dr. Aaron Lerner

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Statement by DM Barak

(Communicated by Josh Hantman, MOD International Media Adviser (Wednesday),
4.4.12, the Israel Police evacuated the settlers who had inhabited the
"Patriarch House" in Hebron. The evacuation was carried out on the orders of
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.



Defense Minister Barak said afterwards: "I will continue to act in order to
maintain the rule of law and democracy while guaranteeing the authority of
the State over its citizens."



Defense Minister Barak added that "Any request to acquire the relevant
buying permit or any other transactions will be dealt with professionally
and impartially, as is the practice. However, we cannot allow a situation
where unlawful actions are taken to determine or dictate ad-hoc facts to the
authorities."

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Before going into the specifics of the “Machpelah House”, which was
evacuated today at the instruction of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a few
words about Ehud Barak and the rule of law.



The laws in Israel strictly restrict work permits to foreign workers such
that there is absolutely no way to get a work permit to employ a foreign
worker as a housekeeper for a household of able bodied persons.



And yet, despite this, Ehud Barak saw Virginia, an illegal Filipina worker,
in his home for close to a year, and we are supposed to believe that it
never dawned on “Mr. Rule of Law” that there might be a problem.



By the way, Virginia told reporters that she took the place of another
illegal foreign worker at the Barak home.



Pop Quiz: Why wasn’t “Mr. Rule of Law” Ehud Barak’s Cabinet Secretary
Isaac Herzog indicted for illegally diverting funds from a Canadian
non-profit organization to the campaign coffers of Ehud Barak? A move that
could have jeopardized the non-profit status of the fund?



Answer: Lack of evidence.


Bonus question: Why “lack of evidence”?


Answer: Isaac Herzog invoked his right to remain silent to avoid
incriminating himself.



A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the equal
application of the law.



Some examples:


The huge shopping malls built in place of corn fields on kibbutzim weren’t
torn down because the land hadn’t yet been rezoned from agricultural use.
It took many years to clear up the paperwork, but the absence of building
permits didn’t stop the cash registers from jingling.



Pretty much every building in the Herzliya Airport compound operated for
many years without proper permits.



There are major communities inside the Green Line in Israel that failed to
complete an approved Urban Building Scheme (UBS) for decades. The absence
of the UBS did not halt development. While technically literally every
structure built in the absence of the UBS was an illegal structure none were
either evacuated or demolished.



Back in October 2002 while the very same cabinet meeting that featured a
shouting match over the evacuation of outposts – also for “rule of law” -
approved a plan proposed by Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh (Labor
Party) to grant operating licenses for "sherut" (jitney) lines to those
companies that illegally operated on the lines for at least three years
without a proper license.



Again. A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the
equal application of the law.



Turning to the “Machpelah House”:


#1. It is an incontrovertible fact that the house was purchased. The seller’s
brother complains that it wasn’t fair for Jews to use an Arab middle man to
buy the property. But he admits that the sale took place.



#2. There is no need to speculate as to the impact of a Jewish presence in
the house – located within the small area in Hebron where Jews are allowed -
on public order. The same IDF officers and others now suggesting the move
could cause a disruption already predicted a firestorm reaction by the Arab
public to the move on Land Day. Yet the “Machpelah House” received next to
no attention from the Arab public in the protests that day.



#3. Mr. Barak claims that "Any request to acquire the relevant buying
permit or any other transactions will be dealt with professionally and
impartially, as is the practice.” The practice of Mr. Barak has been to
consistently refuse to approve transactions. The logic behind his refusal
to approve has consistently been based on ideological/political
considerations rather than the application of some kind of “impartial”
standard.



#4. Mr. Barak asserts that “we cannot allow a situation where unlawful
actions are taken to determine or dictate ad-hoc facts to the authorities."
The transaction of the purchasing of the house was itself not an unlawful
action. And the decision that the area within which the house is located
should be an area where Jews can live was a “fact” that the previous
Netanyahu Government reiterated in the Hebron Agreement. If anything, the
only actor “dictating” today is DM Barak.



#5. If Mr. Rule of Law Barak only wanted to make the point that the house
could not be occupied until he signed the papers then he can sign them
tonight so that the Jews can move back in.



#6. If DM Barak declines to respect the mandate of the coalition Government
it remains up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to restore the balance.

Again. A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the
equal application of the law.



And even an Israeli public with an attention span of a two year old can
reach the conclusion that the “Machpelah House” along with other problems
on the plate from Judea and Samaria, are suffering dearly from a very
unequal application of the law.


Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=56313