High Court Upholds Turkey Accord

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli lawyers seen in the High Court in Yerushalayim before the start of a hearing on  petitions to cancel the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli lawyers seen in the High Court in Yerushalayim before the start of a hearing on petitions to cancel the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s High Court swept aside three petitions against the government’s reconciliation agreement with Turkey, allowing for normalization of bilateral ties conditioned on compensation to victims and expanded access to Gaza.

The decision on Thursday to reject the appeals was expected, given the repercussions that would have followed a judicial intervention in such a major foreign policy matter.

The judges heard three petitions, submitted by terror victims’ families and right-wing activists, which argued that the agreement to compensate victims in the raid of the Mavi Marmara was in effect financing terrorism; and that failure to secure Turkey’s commitment to expel Hamas from its borders justified nullification of the accord.

“It cannot be that someone who tries to harm and kill should find himself (or his relatives) receiving ‘compensation’ in respect to those criminal acts,” the appeal read.

They also warned that by showing “submission and servility,” the deal would in fact encourage further terrorist attacks against Israelis.

The court defended the government’s decision to pay compensation as a “humanitarian gesture.” In a prior hearing, Justice Uri Shoham said that “just because there is an agreement which contains certain elements, it does not mean you can say the government is financing terrorist operations.”

“The State, for diplomatic and security considerations, chose to accept Turkey’s demand to pay a certain amount in return for a final conclusion to the Marmara incident, without constituting a recognition of responsibility,” Joubran wrote in his ruling.

“I do not think it could be said that this decision is illegal or unreasonable, even if these payments are at the end of the day passed to the families of those killed as they attempted to harm IDF soldiers,” he continued, adding that based on these and other considerations, the Court would not involve itself in policy matters.

Regarding Hamas, the NGO Shurat Hadin on behalf of victims of Hamas terrorism argued that the distinction made in the agreement between political and military wings of Hamas is false, there is no real difference, and that allowing so-called members of the Hamas political apparatus was the same as allowing a terror cell to operate in Turkey. For the government to do so was to break its promises regarding a deal, undermining the principle of democracy.

Here, the court resorted to the principle of non-jurisdiction, saying that the specific terms restricting Hamas operations in Turkey was a matter of statecraft, outside the purview of the court.

In response, one of the petitioners, the Otzma Yehudit group, assailed the Court’s inconsistency on the issue: “When the Supreme Court Justices want to, they intervene in both decisions of the government as well as the Knesset,” it said in a statement.

“Only recently, regarding the natural gas agreement, the Court intervened in the deal, despite the government’s position,” it added. “To our sorrow, it was expected that the appeal would be rejected, and our difficult feeling is that the Supreme Court approves (only) government decisions which give a boost to terrorism.”