Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) signed on Tuesday a series of reform aimed at curbing the use of Israel’s judicial system as a political weapon against Jewish farmers in Judea and Samaria.
The changes, referred to as the “Jordan Valley Reforms”, protect employers from baseless lawsuits filed by non-citizens who possess no property inside of Israel and offer no credible evidence for their claims.
Ordinarily in a lawsuit a plaintiff who loses his or her case or who files a claim ruled to be without merit must compensate the defendant for the costs imposed on them by the suit. Plaintiffs in most lawsuits are also required to pay a filing fee prior to the suit.
In most Israeli labor courts, however, plaintiffs are not required to pay any filing fee or offer any collateral.
In recent years Jewish farmers in Judea and Samaria, particularly in the Jordan Valley area, have been inundated with labor court lawsuits filed by Palestinian Authority residents, the overwhelming majority of which have been found to be without basis.
Arab plaintiffs living beyond the Green Line and possessing no property accessible by Israel courts are thus able to file endless claims with penalty or punishment, and as such have nothing to lose.
While very few cases succeed in court, some farmers buckle under the pressure and settle out of court, paying out a small fraction of the original claim. According to data provided to Arutz Sheva, the average compromise settlement in these cases stands at around six percent of the figure demanded in the filing.
For some farmers, paying out what amounts to extortion money is cheaper and easier than fighting the fraudulent claims in court.
With the “Jordan Valley Reforms”, however, non-citizen plaintiffs who cannot show any property inside of Israel and who fail to offer reasonable evidence at the time of their claim will now be barred from filing lawsuits in Israeli courts.
The reforms are the fruit of a joint effort by Shaked and MK Shuli Muallem (Jewish Home), who said the changes would end the wave of “baseless lawsuits used as a way to fight against the State of Israel and to extort farmers.”