Court slams gov´t request to rethink Ulpana razing (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK, JPOST.COM STAFF 05/06/12)
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The High Court of Justice sharply criticized the state during a
hearing on Sunday over a request to cancel a court ruling to demolish
illegal structures in the Ulpana outpost adjacent to Beit El.
The court ruled last September that the state must demolish the
structures by May 1, after accepting a government pledge to raze the
five stone apartment buildings in which 30 families live.
Yesh Din petitioned the court against the outpost in 2008, on behalf
of a group of Palestinians who claim the land belongs to them.
Ulpana residents have argued that the Beit El Yeshiva and Amana – the
construction arm of the settlement movement – bought the land from
Palestinian landowners. They received state-guaranteed mortgages and
grants to buy it.
Sunday´s hearing came after the state asked the court to reopen the
Ulpana case, and reconsider its ruling regarding demolishing the
houses. The state said the demolitions would have tough implications
for residents in Ulpana and Beit El.
Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis and Justices Salim Joubran
and Uzi Vogelman heard the state´s request to reopen the case on
At the start of the hearing, attorney Osnat Mandel for the state said
that the government came before the court with a "most exceptional
request" regarding Ulpana.
"The political leadership wants to examine how it will implement its
policies [regarding West Bank outposts]," Mandel said, later adding
that the state wanted "sixty days to enable us to consolidate the
moves we plan to make."
In response, Justice Vogelman criticized the state´s request, saying
that its pledge to the court "was not just a case of a voluntary
commitment but a significant undertaking."
"This means that for all court rulings, the state will come and say
it has changed its policy and wants to reopen the case," Vogelman
Mandel countered by repeating that the state believes that "these are
very exceptional circumstances".
The state attorney said that the most senior political echelons want
to "examine the implementation of policy, not policy change."
"Considering the whole issue of construction in the West Bank, there
are very unique social, operational characteristics, and this is a
very complex issue," Mandel added.
However, Justice Joubran asked why the state had not done this in the
year between its announcement to the court in May 2011 and the
"These implications have been known for years - so what has changed?"
Joubran also slammed the state´s description of its request
"I have a problem with the definition of "exceptional request", it
has become commonplace," Joubran said.
Mandel replied that the state was making its request on a very narrow
issue, in order to address very serious questions of property rights.
Since May 2011, she said, there had been more in-depth discussion
regarding the implications of evacuating and demolishing buildings
that have been populated for a long time, including property claims.
However, Mandel admitted that the state has yet to contact the
Palestinian petitioners about the issue.
"When we have a concrete solution we will ask them, but we don´t yet
have anything to offer them," Mandel said.
Regarding the issue of land ownership in Ullpana, Joubran added that
as yet, none of the settlers havepresented any purchase claims to the
"It cannot be that after evacuation, it turns out that the people
living there [in the buildings] have a purchase contract," he said.
Attorney Yaron Kosteliz, representing the Beit El settlement, told
the court that the land sale was made in 2000, and that there had
been a police investigation into whether that sale had been illegal.
"The question remaining is whether the seller deceived the buyers,"
The issue of the land ownership in Ulpana is the subject of a civil
suit in the Jerusalem District Court. Settlers say the property was
purchased legally from a Palestinian landowner by the yeshiva in Beit
El and Amana, the construction arm of the settlement movement.
However, the sale was never registered with the Civil Administration
of Judea and Samaria.
The High Court and the state have not recognized the legality of the
sale, and the Jerusalem District Court has not yet ruled on the
settlers´ civil claim, filed in September days before the final High
Court ruling on the issue.
Kosteliz told the court that the settlers had not turned to the civil
courts back in2008, when the Palestinians filed their High Court
petition, because they believed they had a strong case in the High
Attorney Michael Sfard, representing the Palestinian petitioners,
slammed the state´s request and accused them "presenting themselves
today as against the law, and they are harming it."
"I said in September´s hearing that they would not make good on their
commitment," Sfard said, saying he asked the court to issue a final
injunction, even though this is not the usual procedure when the
state pledges to undertake an action.
As the state had given a pledge to enforce demolition orders, the
court did not issue a final injunction ordering the state to raze the
buildings, and held that the legal process was complete.
Also on Sunday, the court heard a request by Meretz MK´s Zehava Gal-
On, Nitzan Horowitz and Ilan Gilon to add themselves the petition.
The three MKs said they did so "to represent the silenced public
interest on the issue of Ulpana".
"The settler-haredi government of Bibi [Netanyahu], [Foreign Minister
Avigdor] Liberman and [Interior Minister Eli] Yishai are now spitting
in the face of the whole of sane society," the Meretz MKs said on
"The state´s request to cancel the final ruling and end the illegal
outpost´s evacuation is an inconceivable insult," they added.
The court is expected to issue a decision on the matter within days.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/06/12)
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