In the Arena

Israel’s Rule of Law

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Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled against the Netanyahu government and order an unsanctioned Israeli settler outpost on the West Bank to be shut down by August. Netanyahu had wanted the outpost to remain open for business in perpetuity–or close to perpetuity, 2015, by which time the government would have argued the permanence of the settlement. This is an important decision–and further evidence that Israel’s Supreme Court is one of the world’s great bastions of civilized legal contemplation.

In recent weeks, the debate over whether to boycott Israel because of its illegal settlements on the West Bank ┬áhas become more intense. Peter Beinart has proposed a limited boycott, focusing on products made or crops raised by Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands. I agree with Beinart about the illegality of the settlements, and the vast damage they are doing to Israel’s future stability, but limited boycotts are messy things–especially when they are likely to slop over into, and reinforce calls for, a more general boycott of Israeli goods. Decisions like the one made today by the Supreme Court should remind us that, despite the recalcitrance of the Likud coalition, Israel remains one of the world’s most supple democracies and its Supreme Court a precious monument to the rule of law.