Court Discusses Arms Transfer to PA

Aviram Zino; Ronny Sofer

Court Discusses Arms Transfer to PA

Court holds short hearing on petition by terrorism research center calling to block transfer of weapons to Palestinian President’s guard. Petitioners claim fact State has already transferred arms to PA makes discussion ‘void of meaning’



The High Court of Justice held a hearing Thursday morning on the issue of arms transfer to the Palestinian Authority, following a petition filed by the Almagor organization calling on the government to cease all weapon delivery to the Palestinians.

The petitioners criticized the State for the fact that 950 light arms have already been transferred, thus making the discussion on the appeal “void of meaning.”

The hearing lasted only a few minutes, and judges decided to issue a ruling in the near future. During the discussion, Almagor group members demonstrated outside the courtroom in protest of the weapon delivery.

Attorney Naftali Wertzberger, who represented the petitioners, said in the hearing that “the message to the public should be clear. The arms transfer has already taken place, and so the discussion is merely theoretical. It’s unacceptable that the High Court become ‘impotent’.”

Upon leaving the court, he added: “The government has been disregarding the courts ever since Chief Justice Aharon Barak began his second term in office.” Referring to the Palestinian Authority, he added: “We are aware of the fact that during the day they are officers in uniform, and at night they carry out terror attacks against us.”

Urgent Hearing

The petition was filed last week by the Almagor organization, a terrorism research institute and Shimon Halevi, and demanded that the transfer of Jordanian and Egyptian weapons to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas be blocked.

Judge Esther Hayot, who accepted the state’s position on the petition judge Tuesday, chose not to issue an interim order preventing the
weapons transfer, but called an urgent hearing with a panel of three judges Thursday morning. Simultaneous to these processes, however, the state already began transferring weapons without waiting for the court’s ruling in the matter. The Palestinian Authority has already received 365 light weapons from Jordan. Abbas’ guard has already been armed, and have even used the arms in melees against Hamas forces.

Attorney Naftali Wertzberger, who represents Almagor, told Ynet on Wednesday that “this is a scandal.” The organization in furious that the weapons transfer has already started. Attorney Wertzberger wrote a raging letter to the State Prosecution, in which he wrote, “Even without an interim order, it is not appropriate in the current circumstances to transfer arms in a manner that mocks the petitioners and the court.”

The Justice Ministry responded: “Judge Hayot decided that there is no room to acquiesce to the petitioners’ demand and issue an interim order although she was presented with the state’s response on June 13, 2006, that some of the weapons have already been transferred and more is to be transferred today.”

“The state’s position is that the petition should be rejected outright because the issue pertains to foreign affairs and the security of the State of Israel, and likewise it is clearly on of those diplomatic matters which by law cannot be decided by the court.”

In conversations with reporters in Paris Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expounded on the decision to transfer the guns, saying that the timing was crucial for two reasons: to protect Abbas’ life and tow protect Israel’s people at the Karni crossing.