Aviad Glickman
August 6, 2008 - 2:26pm

The Supreme Court overturned a Jerusalem District Court decision on Wednesday and determined that the Palestinian Authority is not immune to lawsuits filed by Israeli bodies and it does not hold sovereign immunity.

The Supreme Court’s ruling followed a petition filed by the Beit Midrash of the Elon Moreh settlement in the West Bank against the Jerusalem District Court, which rejected the Jewish organization’s 2006 lawsuit and determined that the PA is considered autonomous and thus, can’t be sued.

The Beit Midrash of Elon Moreh is an organization dealing with the acquisition of lands in the West Bank.

The association conducted three dealings in which real estate and lands were acquired from a village located in the entirely-Palestinian 'area A' in West Bank.

The deals were signed in accordance with declarations made by the Mukhtar (head of the village) pertaining to the property of those selling the land; the declarations ended up being falsified, and thus the deal was not carried through.

The Jewish organization filed a claim for the retrieval of money paid, but even after a verdict was given pretence in 2000, the money was not given and the organization requested that the verdict be implemented.

As a result, the Beit Midrash filed a claim at the Jerusalem District Court against the Palestinian Authority in which it demanded that these elements compensate them in light of the damages endured.

The district court rejected the claim and explained its decision by saying that the PA obtained the stance of a “type of autonomy serving as acting ruler of a portion of a state,” and in this way meets the principle requirements composing a state which include; territory, population and government.

In its appeal, Beit Midrash claimed that following the verdict on this issue, another verdict was given by the Supreme Court that condensed a number of damage claims against the PA and raised common questions.

According to the Jewish group, the Supreme Court determined that the incidence of the PA’s sovereign immunity will be assessed on an individual basis.

On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority claimed that the Supreme Court did not reach a decision on the issues of sovereign immunity for the PA, but merely determined that the door is open for the defendants to utter their various arguments.

The PA also claimed that it holds the immunity of a foreign entity and that the actions for which it is being sued for are political and authoritative in nature.

Supreme Court Justices Edna Arbel, Eliezer Rivlin and Salim Joubran determined that the district court shouldn’t have maintained that the PA has immunity in the face of lawsuits.

Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, founder and director of Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, a Tel-Aviv based human rights institute said, “The verdict is a real message for terror victims and constitutes a real blow to the PA’s attempts to evade their responsibility to the damages and suffering it causes and still causes to many of Israel’s inhabitants.”



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