Attorney General Says Defense Minister Should Let Palestinians Attend Memorial Day Event

In a non-binding opinion, the Attorney General’s Office on Friday rejected a decision by far-right Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to bar bereaved Palestinians from attending an annual joint Memorial Day ceremony in Tel-Aviv next Monday. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s office said in an opinion published that it backed a petition by organizers of the event to compel Gallant to reverse the decision.

Gallant last week announced that due to the “complex security situation in the West Bank,” the Defense Ministry would not be granting permits for some 180 Palestinians who have lost loved ones as a result of the conflict to attend the ceremony.

Combatants for Peace joint Israeli-Palestinian demonstration against occupation in the West Bank, December 23, 2022 (Photo: Combatants for Peace)

Baharav-Miara’s office noted that the top court has already ruled twice in recent years against efforts to indiscriminately ban all Palestinians from attending the ceremony. It wrote that the Defense Ministry had not met its requirement to present evidence justifying the “deviation from the outline laid out in previous rulings.” The High Court is slated to issue a ruling on the matter in the coming days.

The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial is taking place on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, sponsored by Combatants for Peace and The Parents Circle – Families Forum a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization of over 600 families all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the ongoing occupation of the territories

According Combatants for Peace, “Now in its 18th year, the Ceremony is a chance to reflect, to mourn all of those lost to conflict, and to acknowledge the pain, suffering, and sorrow of the other. In the midst of the violence, civil unrest, and the most divided Israeli society in history, we are choosing to follow a different path. To achieve true democracy in Israel, and to end the occupation in Palestine, we must first acknowledge the other. There is no other way forward.”

“For the first year since the Corona outbreak, we are going back to the park! We expect to be joined by over 10,000 people in Ganei Yehoshua Park in Tel Aviv, and over 300,000 worldwide, in a huge show of defiance, of strength, and of humanity.”

According The Parents Circle Families Forum, the memorial is the largest Israeli-Palestinian jointly organized peace event. “The joint ceremony provides a unique opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to grieve together and stand strong in demanding an end to the ongoing violence. Joining together, Israelis and Palestinians to mourn each other’s pain, we aim to challenge the status quo and set the foundation for a new reality based on mutual respect, dignity, and equality for all. In mourning together, we seek not to equate narratives, but rather transform despair into hope and build bridges of compassion. We remind ourselves and society that occupation, oppression, and violence are not inevitable.”