At a Bedouin encampment
At a Bedouin encampment Israel news photo: Flash 90

A column by Maariv's Kalman Libeskind exposes the hypocrisy behind the High Court decision that scuttled a compromise deal regarding the community of Migron and ruled the residents must be evicted by August 1.

President Judge Asher Grunis and Judge Mirian Naor, who sat on the three-judge panel that made the decision, spoke loftily of the need to respect earlier court decisions to evict Migron's residents without dawdling. However, they themselves allowed the eviction of Bedouins who illegally seized land to wait for over 22 years.

"Now the petitioners are entitled to enjoy the fruits of the verdict," the judges wrote regarding Migron – in a reference to petitioners who never proved they had owned the land. "They have the right to see the ongoing disruption of their rights end. The public interest in enforcement of the law must also be felt, as must the rule of law and respect for the law."

"The duty of carrying out a verdict is not a matter of choice," the judges continued, driving in their point. "This is a vital part of the rule of law that we are all subordinate to as part of the state of Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state."

In the early 80's, writes Libeskind, Bedouins from two clans entered territory near the Yerucham-Dimona Highway and illegally occupied it. The state tried unsuccessfully to evict them, time after time. In 1990, the Israel Lands Authority sued the heads of 82 families and demanded that they leave the territory. The deliberations took six years due to what the court termed the "sensitivity" of the matter. In 1996, the court determined that the land belongs to the state and that the Bedouins have no claim to it.

Moreover, the court found that the Bedouins had lied when they said that their families had occupied the land for generations. The judge gave them six months to take out all of their belongings from the area. They appealed and lost, in 1998. They then appealed to the High Court, and lost there too. However, the High Court took its time with the case and did not publish its verdict until 2007 – 17 years after the process had begun.

"We did not rush to remove this request from our schedule, and it remained open before this court in various panels for many years – perhaps too many – in which we agreed time and time again to requests for postponements," the judges wrote. "All this was done out of an intent to reach an agreed solution."

Two of the judges on that panel were Judges Grunis and Naor.

Shortly after the High Court decision in 2007, writes Libeskind, a special committee on the Bedouin land problem headed by retired judge Eliezer Goldberg heard the Bedouins' case "and its tender and merciful heart was broken." It recommended letting them stay on the land. "22 years after the start of those procedures, the Authority for Legalization of the Bedouin Settlements is negotiating with those lawbreakers, who now number some 3,000 souls and are spread out on an area of several thousand dunams, with the purpose of setting up their permanent community for them."

"So you there, in the High Court, do me one favor please," writes the journalist. "Don't give me that hogwash about the rule of law and the need to uphold verdicts. As you wrote in your verdict – ' 'the hour of truth has come.' So the truth is – everything is politics. And that includes everything."