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Israel bill to limit Palestinians' access to High Court passes first reading

Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech during a Knesset session [Prime Minister of Israel/Flickr]
Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech during a Knesset session [Prime Minister of Israel/Flickr]

Israeli politicians waved through a bill that would limit Palestinians' access to the High Court last night, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The bill would prevent many cases, including those of housing demolitions and Israeli land grabbing offences, from reaching the High Court, instead redirecting them to district courts in the occupied West Bank.

Right-wing politicians stated that the bill would reduce the number of complaints pertaining to land ownership that are often filed by Palestinians and left-wing organisations in the aftermath of settler occupation.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a supporter of the bill, rejoiced in its passing of the first reading.

"The move will also reduce the heavy burden imposed on the High Court of Justice," she said adding that the High Court "handles more than 2,000 petitions each year, and should reject many of them outright."

Critics however argued that the bill was a step towards annexation of the West Bank, by expanding the power of district courts outside of Israeli sovereignty.

Read: Palestinians call to save their homes from Israeli demolition orders

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni expressed concern that the move would strengthen the argument that Palestinians should have the right to vote in Israel, as has been suggested as part of the one-state solution.

Shaked defended the bill, stating that in the case of land ownership claims, it would place the burden of proof on the Palestinians filing the case, not the Israeli settlers.

The bill will also refer other issues to the lower court, such as restraining orders and Israel entry permits.

Israel has long sought to annex the occupied West Bank to preserve the illegal settlements in the area, but has struggled with what the fate of Palestinians would be.

Earlier this month, Israel's deputy defence minister, MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, claimed that Israel could annex the entirety of the occupied West Bank, without giving its Palestinian residents the right to vote.

"The clear and absolute thing is that we are here in the Land of Israel and we are not afraid of any attempts to frighten us," he said. "They want to scare us that maybe soon we will not be a majority and therefore we have to abandon Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. This is a grave mistake."

Read: Lieberman: Israel plans 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

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