All Israel

High Court says Palestinians must be allowed into Israel for joint event on Memorial Day

Ruling comes following attorney general's decision against Defense Minister Gallant

Palestinians, Israelis and politicians attend a memorial ceremony commemorating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Tel Aviv, May 3, 2022. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, granted a petition against Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had banned a group of Palestinians from entering Israel to attend a joint Israeli-Palestinian event called Remembrance Day, scheduled to take place on Israel's Memorial Day.

This event marks the 18th year of the Remembrance Day joint ceremony, and is scheduled to be held at Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park in person for the first time in three years due to the COVID pandemic.

Remembrance Day was started by the group 'Combatants for Peace' to honor Israelis and Palestinians that have died in the decades-long conflict between the peoples. The event remains controversial in both Israeli and Palestinian societies.

Israeli conservatives say the event legitimizes terrorism by equating Israel’s fallen soldiers with the terrorists they are often attacking. Supporters say the event is meant to provide meaning to the death of loved ones by seeking a solution apart from violence. 

In Palestinian society, the ceremony is controversial because it appears to equate “occupying” soldiers with the “oppressed." In addition, many Palestinians reject any form of dialogue with Israel. 

Last week, after Gallant announced his decision to bar entry to approximately 200 Palestinians wishing to attend the ceremony, citing “security reasons,” the NGOs Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle-Families Forum appealed the decision to the high court. 

In a non-binding opinion, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara noted that previous decisions to prohibit Palestinians from entering Israel for a ceremony had been overturned on two separate occasions. 

Ceremony organizers said that over 200,000 watched the live stream of the event last year, which was presented in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. The two previous year's events were also held virtually.
This year’s in-person ceremony is also due to be streamed, despite pandemic restrictions no longer playing a factor.

“The previous ministers’ decisions not to allow Palestinians to enter the ceremony were brought to the scrutiny of the court on two different occasions, which found that these decisions should be overturned,” the attorney general said. 

Gallant had argued that his decision to deny entry was due to “the complex security situation” and part of the general closure of the Palestinian territories in Judea and Samaria and Gaza that was to start three hours before the Remembrance Day ceremony on April 24. That closure was to be lifted on Wednesday, April 26, after Independence Day. 

The attorney general wrote in her opinion: “No professional or factual infrastructure was presented to justify deviation from previous High Court rulings in the ban on Palestinian attendance in the ceremony.” 

Baharav-Miara also noted that thousands of Palestinian workers would still be allowed into the country for work on those two days.

Yesterday, the High Court unanimously sided with the attorney general, using similar language. 

"Minister Gallant has not provided any arguments explaining the change in circumstances that justify, in his view, preventing the entry of the Palestinians invited to the joint ceremony," the court stated. 

The High Court also pointed out that the Defense Ministry’s own Civil Administration approved the request by 10 Palestinians to attend the ceremony. 

The court's decision was welcomed by the Combatants for Peace group, who issued a statement saying, "The government's attempt, through Minister Gallant, to act belligerently against the court and legal counsel is an attempt to stir up more strife on the backs of the bereaved families.” 

The Kohelet Forum, widely viewed as the ideological initiators of the government's judicial reform legislation, said the court's decision demonstrated why judicial reform is necessary. 

“This is how the theater of the absurd operates: An ostensible court hearing, which in practice constitutes a one-voice discourse—the petitioners together with the attorney general, and the Israeli government is not even represented in the hearing. And some people ask why there is a need for reform in regulating the attorney general’s powers?” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories