Motion against 'Settler' Judge Denied

High Court rejects leftist NGO attempt to disqualify new Supreme Court judge who lives in Alon Shvut in the liberated Etzion Bloc.

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Gil Ronen,

Justice Noam Solberg
Justice Noam Solberg
Israel news photo: Flash 90

High Court Judge Esther Hayut rejected Sunday a motion filed by extreme leftist NGO Yesh Gvul against the appointment of Judge Noam Solberg to the Supreme Court.

The NGO's motion argued that "a settler in the occupied territories does not possess the moral purity that a judge on the Supreme Court must have." It called Solberg "a settler who lives near Shechem" (which is located in Samaria, although he actually resides in a town in the  Etzion Bloc ten minutes south of Jerusalem and in Judea) and stated that the decision by the Committee for Appointment of Judges to place him in Israel's top court is therefore void.

Judge Hayut ruled against the motion and explained that she had reread the law concerning judicial appointments but "did not find that the respondent's place of residence in Alon Shvut (in the Etzion Bloc and not "near Shechem" as the motion stated) is a valid argument against being a judge, including in the Supreme Court."

She added, "It is not superfluous to note that the respondent has been serving as judge for many years, but as the petitioners themselves stated, they raised no complaint against him in this matter until now."

"I found no legal precedent according to which such a place of residence is damaging to moral purity in general, and to judicial moral purity specifically. The petitioner pointed to no such precedent…"

The Etzion Bloc, Gush Etzion in Hebrew, was an area whose lands were purchased by Jews in the 1920's. It was overrun by Arab forces just before Israel's 1948 War of Independence. The 127 farmer-fighters of Kfar Etzion, one of four settlements in the bloc and who had previously sent the women and children to Jerusalem, were massacred by the Jordanian Legion, although they surrendered holding up a white flag. The rest of the outnumbered settlements in the bloc surrendered the following day. Their children, including the late MK Hanan Porat, re-founded the settlements after the 1967 War with full government backing. Alon Shvut is the site of the famed Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva.

Leftists in Israel contend that living in areas Israel liberated in 1967 is morally wrong, while living in areas it liberated 19 years earlier poses no moral problem.