On October 26, 2018, the amendment to the Administrative Courts Law, 2018, went into effect, having passed its second and third hearings in the Knesset on July 17, 2018. The law moves the authority to hear petitions submitted by residents of the occupied territories (OPT) from the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to the Jerusalem District Court (sitting as an Administrative Court), so far as the petitions relate to decisions in the fields of planning and construction in the OPT (including construction on private Palestinian land); the authorities in the OPT's handling of freedom-of-information requests; and decisions regarding entry to and exit from the OPT.
This amendment is an additional step in the creeping annexation advanced by the current Israeli government, in an ongoing attempt to blur the distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories under military rule. Further, in light of the greater weight of HCJ judgments versus judgments issued by lower courts, the law may weaken judicial review of administrative decisions made by the Israeli authorities in the OPT.
HaMoked submits hundreds of petitions to the HCJ each year, as part of its efforts to defend the most basic rights of Palestinian residents of the OPT. From now on, HaMoked will be forced to submit to the District Court its petitions on behalf of Palestinians who have been barred from traveling overseas, and on behalf of residents of the West Bank who wish to enter "the Seam Zone" - the West Bank areas trapped between the separation wall and the Green Line (the armistice line between Israel and the West Bank). This new law will not deter HaMoked, which will continue to represent Palestinians whose rights have been violated, and to insist on Israel's obligation to uphold international law.