The Americas

Chilean court rejects demand against Israeli judges

A Chilean court rejected lawsuits filed in the South American country against three current or former Israeli Supreme Court justices for endorsing the construction of the West Bank separation barrier and the seizure of lands and the property on them from Palestinians.

The Associated Press had access to the ruling Sunday.

Chile's Palestinian Federation filed a war crimes lawsuit last week against current Justices Uzi Vogelman and Neal Hendel and retired justice Asher Grunis, who was president of the court in 2012-15.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that the stretch of barrier is built on land the international community considers occupied and has separated Palestinians from properties and farmland.

The group contended that Chile's international agreements allow for suits involving crimes against humanity committed in other countries. But in their ruling, the judges said they did not have the authority to intervene in another country's court decisions.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Nicolas Pavez, said the group would appeal the ruling.

A Chilean-Palestinian woman who owns land in the Cremisan Valley, which is near Bethlehem, had also filed a lawsuit.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman earlier said the federation's lawsuit had no legal basis.

Chile's Palestinian community is among the world's largest, with about 350,000 immigrants and their descendants.

Israel says the barrier built beginning in 2002 is needed to keep out Palestinian attackers. Palestinians call the structure an illegal land grab because it frequently juts in and out of the West Bank, placing occupied territory claimed by the Palestinians on the "Israeli" side.

The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest judicial organ, in 2004 issued an advisory opinion saying the barrier was illegal.

Palestinians seek the entire West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as parts of a future independent state, a position that has wide international backing.