Worthy Christian News » World News » Israel Supreme Court Refuses to Pull Plug on Taba Talks
In a decision reflecting its left-of-center political bent, Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a series of five petitions asking that resigned Prime Minister Ehud Barak be barred from continuing fateful peace negotiations with the Palestinians in Taba so close to an election.
Six of seven of the Supreme Court justices said that Barak's resignation in mid-December is not reason enough to prevent him from pursuing the negotiations, and that the petition should have been addressed to the Knesset. Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak wrote that the Knesset is empowered to legislatively limit a minority government's ability to conduct diplomatic negotiations.
Some Knesset Members said the ruling ignored the fact that Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg has already refused to consider a petition signed by a majority of 61 MKs demanding a parliamentary debate and vote on a pending bill that would indeed prohibit the Taba talks from proceeding. Other MKs noted that the Supreme Court, on the eve of the previous May 1999 elections, stayed an order by former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to close Orient House, the PLO headquarters in Jerusalem, on the grounds that it came too close to the elections.
Justice Barak, who wrote the majority ruling, said the law is clear about the fact that a transitional government is empowered to conduct policy and does not formally limit its actions in any way. He concluded that while a transitional government must show restraint, it is still charged with "taking action when there was a vital public need." He reasoned that when it comes to complex and specialized matters such as economic policy or foreign affairs and defense, the government's latitude is particularly wide.
"It is clear that the court's intervention at any time in such matters would be exceptional," wrote Justice Barak. "In a case like this, which is primarily political and lies at the heart of the political debate in Israel, it is the Knesset, or the nation in an election, which should decide."
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.