Israeli court rules Gaza pullout legal

Israel's Supreme Court has ruled the Gaza withdrawal plan is legal, removing the last obstacle to the pullout scheduled for this summer.

    Illegal settlers must vacate their Gaza homes in August

    The 11-judge panel rejected 12 petitions by Israeli opponents to the withdrawal from all Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements, ruling the pullout does not violate the settlers' human rights.


    On Thursday, 10 of the judges ruled the plan was constitutional. The minority opinion of one judge said it was illegal and should be cancelled.


    Yoram Sheftel, an attorney for the settlers, said his expectations were low because the Supreme Court has a tendency of ruling against Jewish settlers.


    "We didn't expect anything from this court since the petitioners are Jews and patriots," Sheftel said. "This was fully expected. There's no surprise. I'm not disappointed because we didn't have any expectations."


    "We didn't expect anything from this court since the petitioners are Jews and patriots"

    Yoram Sheftel, 
    Attorney for settlers

    Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni praised the court's decision,

    and expressed hope the ruling would defuse settler

    resistance to the evacuation, which is expected to be


    "I hope this ruling sends a message to the lone settler

    that the plan is going ahead," Livni told Israel's Army


    Aljazeera's correspondent in Ram Allah, Walid al-Umari, reported that settlers demonstrated after the decision, closing shops, government offices, institutions and main roads.



    Meanwhile, a former Israeli chief rabbi who has been a fierce opponent of the planned pullout called on settlers on Thursday not to use force to prevent their evacuation by security forces.


    Former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most influential figures in religious Zionism, also called on soldiers not to refuse orders to carry out the disengagement project. 


    Opinion polls show public support
    for the pullout plan is dropping

    "We must not get in a situation in which one Jew raises his hand against another," Eliyahu said in an interview with private Channel 2 television.


    The army and police will jointly carry out the operation to relocate the 8000 settlers of Gaza in an operation which is due to start in mid-August.


    Eliyahu, who has previously been quoted as implying that soldiers should refuse orders to evacuate fellow Jews, advised troops to obey their commands.

    Support dropping

    The Supreme Court ruling comes as opinion polls show that the

    public's support for the plan - initially at more

    than 70% - is dropping.

    Recent polls show support

    for the plan is hovering around 50% and opposition

    has risen slightly.

    Gaza mayor Avner Shimoni latched on to the opinion

    polls, saying the Supreme Court's ruling will become

    irrelevant if the public does not support the evacuation.

    "Our people are strengthening from day to day and are

    really very encouraged by what is happening," Shimoni told

    Israel's Army Radio.

    "The polls show that the public is

    opposed... In the end this is what will pressure our

    parliament to decide against this."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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