Lemon Tree (‘Etz Limon’)

DRAMA; 1hr 46min (Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles)

STARRING: Hiam Abbass, Ali Suliman, Doron Tavory, Rona Lipaz-Michael

Legal action: Abbass and Suliman

On the border of Israel and the West Bank, 45-year-old Palestinian widow Salma (Abbass) makes a modest living tending her decades-old grove of lemon trees. Her fragile tranquillity is about to be shattered by the arrival of the new, silver-tongued Israeli Defence Minister (Tavory) and his sympathetic wife (Lipaz-Michael), who move into a ritzy house next door. When the authorities decree that her trees are a potential threat to the minister’s security and must be cut down, Salma goes to work, hiring a young — and rapidly smitten — Palestinian lawyer (Suliman) and taking her humble case as high as it will go: to the Israel Supreme Court.


Gracefully underplayed by Abbass, Salma is habitually reserved, but like director Eran Riklis’s keenly relevant movie, she has a quiet and reflective strength. She also deserves to prevail, especially since her fight is so much bigger than she is. And as her battle with the state becomes a paramount moral issue, resolve is tested and defined on both sides of the divide.