High Court: Disengagement Pardons are Legal

Court rejects motion to nullify 2010 law that pardoned protesters against expulsion from Gaza.

Gil Ronen ,

Girls from Gush Katif protest Disengagement
Girls from Gush Katif protest Disengagement
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The High Court rejected Thursday, by a majority of 8:1, a motion that asked it to strike down a 2010 law pardoning people who broke the law while demonstrating against the 2005 Expulsion from Gaza.

The law stopped legal proceedings against demonstrators who were not convicted of serious violence, and who were not charged in military courts.

In July 2011, a panel of three High Court judges asked the state to offer arguments as to why the court should not strike down the law. The judges were responding to a motion filed by two lawyers, Omer Shatz and Yiftach Cohen, who represented 12 protesters arrested near Jerusalem's Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. The lawyers claimed that the law was discriminatory in that it gave a license to a specific political and ideological group to break the law – but did not give a similar license to members of other ideological groups.

In its decision, the High Court determined that while the law did contradict the principle of equality before the law, the unique circumstances justified this discrimination. Judge Dorit Beinisch wrote that "There is no doubt that the breaking of the law took place against a background of unusual circumstances. The event was uniquely powerful in scope and meaning, involved sharp dissent within the Israeli public and created a rift between different parts of society, which may not have healed in the years that passed since the events took place."