Knesset Committee Advances Bill Limiting Palestinians from Petitioning High Court of Justice

The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved on Sunday, July 15, a bill that limits the High Court of Justice’s authority to hear petitions filed by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Currently, the High Court is the court of first instance for West Bank Palestinians’ petitions, rather than the district courts, as is the case for Israeli citizens living in sovereign Israel.

The committee gave the green light for the government-sponsored bill’s second and third readings before the Knesset plenum. If the bill is made law, the designated court of first instance for West Bank Palestinians’ administrative petitions will be the Jerusalem District Court instead of the High Court.

This change would give the district court jurisdiction to discuss petitions filed by West Bank Palestinian over restraining orders barring individuals from regions of the West Bank, travel permits, planning and construction and freedom-of-information. The bill is meant to hamper Palestinian petitions against Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

In response to the decision to advance the bill, Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), who sits on the Knesset committee that authorized the legislation, warned that “Just like the nation-state bill, this law will have international consequences.” According to Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) “The bill is another step in a sophisticated mechanism at play in the Knesset in the attempt to annex the occupied territories and to deny the Palestinians rights.”