Israel tells High Court will demolish illegal West Bank buildings according to own ´priorities´ (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Chaim Levinson and Tomer Zarchin 04/30/12)
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Illegal buildings built on private land will be demolished in any
scenario, Israel´s State Prosecutor´s said on Sunday, however, the
state has asked that such actions be hinged upon a ´list of
The state´s answer was given following a petition to Israel´s High
Court of Justice demanding the demolition of two housing projects in
the settlement of Beit El in the West Bank. The case in question is
separate than the Ulpana neighborhood issue.
The petition, filed by Abed al-Rahman Kassem and the human rights
organization "Yesh Din," asks the High Court to order the demolition
of two buildings being constructed by a private contractor in the
west part of Beit El.
The lands in question were seized in the 1970s for military purposes.
In 2010, the land owners asked the High Court to order the demolition
of the buildings. On April 2011 the state agreed to demolish them in
a year´s delay, but at the last moment asked for more time in order
to examine the action´s political implications.
Judge Edna Arbel, former Israeli Attorney General, pressured head of
High Court petitions in the State Prosecutor´s Office Osant Mendel,
asking her whether there has been a change in the state´s policy
regarding the demolition of buildings built on private land.
Mendel answered that "the policy stands. What the state asks now is
to prioritize its implementation." Mendel quoted a past case, in
which a petition asked for the demolition of similar buildings in the
settlement of Ofra. The state´s answer, she said, was that "for the
time being, we are not evacuating Ofra."
Mendel added that a team made up of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will discuss cases involving building
demolitions. According to Mendel, the team will decisions will
consider whether buildings are populated or not, and if a dispute
exists over the ownership of the land. The state asked for 90 days in
order to present a new policy on the matter. The court gave the state
60 days to do so.
In the past, Israel has declared that its top priority in enforcing
planning and construction laws in the West Bank is unpopulated
buildings. The state´s answer Sunday constitutes a change in the list
of priorities submitted to court.
Representing the petitioners, attorney Michael Sfard said that both
Netanyahu and Barak have pledges to demolish the two buildings in the
past. Sfard added that on Sunday, the court and the petitioners were
unfairly presented with a fact just days before the scheduled
"The state´s story doesn’t hold up in reality. What are the legal
options of the state´s plea? What other legal options do they have
besides the removal of the buildings?" Sfard asked, and claimed that
there are no legal ways to expropriate the lands or to legalize the
"Is the reason prioritizing, or political?" asked Sfard. "The state´s
leaders have already publicly declared that they don´t intent to
demolish the buildings, and are now trying to cut corners. Their
request is no less than arrogance." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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