Israeli families blast high court ruling letting Palestinians attend ‘alternative’ memorial

Netanyahu and Israelis who lost loved ones to Arab violence condemned the Supreme Court decision allowing Palestinians entry to an alternative Memorial Day ceremony.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling allowing some 100 Palestinians to attend an alternative Memorial Day event in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on Tuesday night, in spite of a closure on Arab entry from Judea and Samaria.

“The High Court’s decision is wrong and disappointing,” PM Netanyahu said in a statement. “There is no place for a memorial service that compares blood between us and the blood of terrorists. I therefore refused to allow the participants to enter the ceremony, and I believe that there was no room for the High Court’s intervention in this decision.”

Tzachi Wachsman, the brother of Sgt. Nachshon Wachsman who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and murdered during a failed rescue attempt in 1994, wrote that the court’s decision doubled his grief.

“I am shocked by the holding of an alternative memorial ceremony, with the encouragement of the Supreme Court, in memory of terrorists with the participation of their families,” he posted on Facebook. “This decision makes me feel doubly sad and grieved on the day of remembrance for our holy fallen. I feel frustrated and humiliated that this is my country.”

“You can hold your ceremonies on any day of the year, why hurt tens of thousands of families who are reunited with their loved ones on this holy day?” he added.

Joint head of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Member of Knesset Betzalel Smotrich, echoed Wachsman’s point.

“Memorial Day is not a private mourning day for bereaved families. It’s a state day whose national character must not be harmed, even by bereaved families,” he said. “There are 364 days a year to experience the private mourning in their own way.”

MK Smotrich is demanding the justice ministry portfolio as the price for his party’s entry into the government coalition, the formation of which is still under negotiation. During the election campaign, he called for reducing the Supreme Court’s activism.

However, the front-runner for the position is Likud’s Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, who is also looking to restrain the court’s powers. He, too, blasted Monday’s decision.

“If anyone needed further proof of the vital and immediate need for a fundamental reform of the judicial system, especially a change in the face of the Supreme Court, he has it in the form of the outrageous ruling on the entry of Palestinians into Israel,” he said.

The memorial in question is organized by the Bereaved Families Forum and Combatants for Peace (CFP) and has taken place since 2006, with a few thousand attendees. Last year, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tried to bar about 90 Palestinians from attending, with the same result – an appeal to the High Court, which overturned the minister’s decision.

CFP declares that its goal is “to end the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders” through non-violent means. However, according to NGO Monitor, the organization’s activities “reflect a strong affiliation with the Palestinian agenda and narrative, placing most of the blame for the conflict on ‘the occupation.’”