High Court Won’t Participate in Gush Etzion State Ceremony, Naor Says

YERUSHALAYIM -
A sign saying “Welcome to Gush Etzion” at the Gush Junction. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Despite condemnations by politicians and community leaders, and even a pending lawsuit against her, High Court chief justice Miriam Naor reiterated Wednesday that a High Court justice will not attend an official state ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of renewed Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion. The Regavim organization on Tuesday night filed the lawsuit against Naor’s decision with the High Court that she leads, claiming that state ceremonies of this type require top officials of state institutions to attend.

The state ceremony is set to take place Wednesday afternoon, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion. Israelis had been living in the area before the 1948 War of Liberation, but were forced to leave when Jordanian troops invaded their communities and threatened to massacre them. After the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel liberated the area, Kfar Etzion, which was destroyed by the Jordanians, was re-established.

As far as Naor is concerned, however, the High Court does not need to be represented at a ceremony like this. In a letter to the Knesset, Naor said that “there is no reason for a member of the judiciary to attend this ceremony.” As a result, Justice Neal Hendel, who was to represent the court, will not attend. Naor reiterated her position in a statement Wednesday, saying that “this is an event that divides the public. We have to look at each event on its own. It would be proper for the judiciary to avoid events that are controversial among the public.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev slammed Naor’s decision. “There is no people in the world that has a greater right to its land than the Jewish people have to Yehudah and Shomron, the Golan and the Jordan Valley,” said Regev. “This must be clear to all, and it is above political dispute. The heads of the labor movement, David Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres, understood the importance of these areas, and established Jewish settlement there. They are no doubt turning over in their graves over the situation today.”

Also boycotting the event are the heads of Labor and Yesh Atid, who said that it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was politicizing matters by holding the event in the first place. “Those who boycott a half million people who live in Yehudah and Shomron and will not participate in their celebrations should make sure not to come back to them looking for votes at election time, claiming to be ‘right-wing,’” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzippy Hotovely.