Order to remove Jewish homes unenforceable, rightists say (ISRAEL HAYOM) Shlomo Cesana, Mati Tuchfeld, Edna Adato, Efrat Forsher and Gideon Allon 05/08/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
The High Court of Justice´s decision to deny the state further
hearings on the Ulpana neighborhood slated for destruction by July 1
outrages the Right, and prompts calls for special bill to bypass
ruling • Left calls decision a victory for justice.
The High Court of Justice on Monday instructed the state to follow
through on its promise to demolish several disputed homes in the
Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El Monday, rejecting a motion to reopen
the case for further litigation and setting off a political firestorm.
The decision sparked outrage among right-wing politicians, and in the
Likud in particular. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now faces
renewed pressure to advance legislation that would retroactively
declare the neighborhood legal. One minister was quoted Monday as
saying that the court´s decision is "directed against the
government´s polices and constitutes an improper interference by the
judiciary in executive branch decisions." Another minister said, "The
prime minister has already said the public would not be able to
stomach a decision to destroy the homes; the evacuation of people
would deal a blow to the Likud during an election campaign."
The court handed down its decision just hours before Netanyahu and
Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz secretly agreed to form a unity
government. The agreement created political upheaval by Tuesday
morning, as less than a day before the Knesset was set to dissolve
and call early elections. That motion has now been shelved.
The Ulpana controversy began last year, when left-wing groups
petitioned the court and challenged the legality of the five three-
story apartment blocks on the edge of Beit El (a settlement in the
Benjamin region of Judea and Samaria). Netanyahu´s government
eventually agreed to remove the structures by May 1, 2012. But as the
deadline approached, Netanyahu came under intense pressure from
within his own Likud party and from other pro-settler coalition
allies to delay the demolition and asked the court to reopen the
case, which had been shut in light of the state´s pledge.
The High Court gave a temporary stay of 60 days in April and this
week convened for a second time on the matter to hear the state´s
request to reopen the case. According to Army Radio, the state asked
the court to consider the political ramifications of demolishing the
homes and the resources such an endeavor would necessitate, as well
the as the effect on the general public. At Monday´s hearing the
justices lambasted the state for reneging on its initial vow to
remove the homes and ordered the demolition to be completed by July 1.
"Accepting the state´s position to reopen a case that has been fully
deliberated and resolved just because it wants to rethink its policy
on the matters at hand may lead to dire consequences," Chief Justice
Asher Grunis wrote in his opinion, which was also signed by the other
two judges on the panel, Justice Salim Joubran and Justice Uzi
Vogelman. "Policy, per definition, is not static. Does the state plan
to ask the court to re-litigate shut cases every time it reviews its
In their unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel said the state´s
arguments "do not merit a departure from the legal concept known as
res judicata [which says that a case cannot be reopened except in
special circumstances]," and ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs
NIS 15,000 ($3,950) to cover their legal expenses.
Immediately after the court rendered its ruling, legislators on the
Right resumed their campaign to have the neighborhood sanctioned,
despite court rulings that it is at least partly built on private
Palestinian land. If the government sponsors legislation on the
matter, it may choose to adopt some of the provisions suggested by MK
Zevulun Orlev (New National Religious Party) and coalition chairman
Zeev Elkin (Likud). The private legislation they have been pushing,
the "legalization bill," stipulates that a Jewish neighborhood cannot
be demolished if the property owners fail to seek compensation during
the four-year period after construction. The bill also says the
courts can compensate property owners for the land to avoid
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (New National
Religious Party) held feverish talks to allow the bill to pass before
the now-torpedoed election dissolution bill sent lawmakers on a
recess Vice Prime Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister
Silvan Shalom (Likud) supported Hershkowitz´s move, saying, "This
Knesset must not dissolve before legislating the legalization bill."
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Public
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) also
expressed their support for quick action on the matter, as did MK
Danny Danon (Likud) and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who
went so far as to say that "it would have been unimaginable to have
dozens of families in Tel Aviv or Kfar Saba evicted from their homes
in their neighborhoods just because someone arrived from no-where and
claim ownership of the land on which that neighborhood had been
built. The only rational solution in such cases is to hand out
generous compensation for those who say the land belongs to them -
provided they can prove their claims."
However, Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence and Atomic Energy
Minister Dan Meridor (Likud) took a different view and said lawmakers
must honor the court´s decision and refrain from passing special
legislation to bypass it.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) attacked the justices,
saying, "Grunis, Joubran and Vogelman decided to set the election
campaign on fire. The High Court of Justice´s obsession with
destruction and demolition of Jewish homes, and only Jewish homes,
will lead to bloodshed."
Meanwhile, the Yesha Council (the council of the Jewish communities
of Judea, Samaria and Gaza) planned to convene an emergency meeting
in the neighborhood Monday night. "The High Court of Justice´s
determination to destroy Jewish homes without granting the state a
stay to rethink its position is the most egregious form of injustice
and indifference," read the council´s statement from Monday.
Vice Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya´alon (Likud) blamed the state
prosecution for the outcome in the case. "I have no misgivings about
the High Court´s decision because it effectively endorses the state´s
position in favor of demolition from court hearings on the Ulpana
neighborhood last year – a position that viewed the neighborhood´s
construction as wrongheaded at its core. The state prosecution
applied a lax interpretation for its policy on illegal outposts,
which has nothing to do with the Ulpana neighborhood; it was built
with the proper permits and authorizations."
Ulpana residents had a mixed reaction to the court´s ruling, ranging
from surprise to resignation. The first grouped accused the High
Court of Justice of being a proxy for the Left while others lamented
that it is not surprising that the High Court would force the state,
which sent the residents to Beit El to build the structures, to be
the same entity to that would order them to destroy those structures.
A spokesperson for the residents released a statement Monday
saying, "Time has come for the government of Israel to exercise its
sovereignty and to legalize the 9,000 housing units in Judea and
Samaria, and particularly the Ulpana neighborhood structures; the
state built them and even granted incentives for would-be buyers."
Meanwhile, most on the Left backing the justices´ decision.
Labor party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) said, "The High
Court of Justice made a clear ruling and it´s time to put an end to
the government evasive tactics meant at shirking its duties. There is
no substitute for the rule of law, and no political maneuver can
change that," she said.
Meretz party leader MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) spoke out against
Netanyahu´s decision to seek a last-minute stay on the
demolition. "The prime minister has been punished for the devious
trick of petitioning the court two days before the evacuation
deadline and now he will have to evacuate settlers who built on
private land," she said.
Attorney Michael Sfard, the legal adviser to human rights group Yesh
Din, represented the Palestinian land owners who petitioned for the
removal of the Ulpana structures. "The High Court upheld the
principles of justice and the rule of law," he said. "The moment the
government filed its unprecedented request, it became a battle over
the basic norms in a system of government that is based on the rule
of law. I hope the ruling will be enforced without any sleight of
Yariv Oppenheimer, the general director of left-wing Peace Now
movement, which petitioned the government on the removal of the
homes, called on the Netanyahu to "announce that he will carry out
the High Court ruling and that he will evacuate the Ulpana
neighborhood and the Migron outpost this summer. The High Court
rulings can serve as a watershed moment that could determine whether
Israel is a democratic state or the settlers´ state."
Harbi Hassan, the Palestinian who claims ownership over the disputed
property told Army Radio Tuesday that he is "very happy about the
decision, which we expected all along." Praising the court, Hassan
said he trusts the court´s decision will be implemented. "We have
full confidence in the High Court of Justice and in the justices´
ability to rule in our favor and to return the land to its rightful
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY