High Court may have ruled against West Bank outpost, but the story isn´t over (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Aeyal Gross 05/09/12)
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In the printed version of Monday´s High Court of Justice decision
reiterating the order to vacate Beit El´s Ulpana neighborhood,
there´s something interesting about the punctuation: Two sentences
end with both a question mark and an exclamation point, something
rare, if not unprecedented, in a court document.
"Does the state, every time a new policy is considered, plan to ask
the court to reopen proceedings that have ended in a ruling?!" wrote
court President Justice Asher Dan Grunis, who also
wondered, "What ... would be the reason for providing the exceptional
remedy of reopening a legal proceeding .. in which the state has
committed to act in a certain fashion?!"
On the one hand, one must welcome the court´s decision to reject the
request to reopen the hearing on Ulpana Hill, which reinforces not
only the finality of court decisions but reinforces the basic
principle of carrying them out.
On the other hand, if in the case of Migron, the fact that there had
to be a petition to the High Court to enforce a previous court ruling
demonstrated the degree to which the occupation tramples on equal
rights and the rule of law, in the Ulpana case there´s been an even
further slide down the slippery slope.
Here the High Court had to deal with a specific request from the
state not to obey a ruling it received.
So while it looks like the High Court was defending the rule of law,
woe unto a generation that needs the High Court to tell the
government that it´s meant to obey its rulings. No wonder the High
Court had to append exclamation points to its question marks.
But the biggest question mark of all still remains: Will the
structures built on private Palestinian land near Beit El be
demolished by July 1, the date the court set? Migron, don´t forget,
is meant to be dismantled by August 1.
This means that on the eve of general elections, the government is
going to have to twice demolish buildings and evacuate settlers from
private Palestinian land. If the government would prefer not to obey
these rulings for political reasons, there are three possible
The first could be a horrific one, in which despite the High Court´s
unequivocal rulings the government simply doesn´t implement them, in
what would be a total trampling of the rule of law. A second
possibility is that the government would seek more extensions from
the High Court, though based on its recent rulings it isn´t likely
the court will agree.
The third scenario is that in an effort to codify the theft, various
elements will try to pass "High Court bypass" laws that would
retroactively legalize those outposts built on private Palestinian
land. In such an instance, the High Court would once again be called
upon to decide if such laws are constitutional, or if they contravene
the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom.
At issue is not just the rule of law in its formal sense, which was
at least defended this time, but also the substance of the rule of
law, which continues to be crushed.
It´s clear that the violations of law in these cases and the efforts
to avoid carrying out the court rulings stems from the fact that
these lands belong to Palestinians, and in this context, as in many
others, the government relates to Palestinian rights as negatable.
One must recall that the rulings on Migron and Ulpana Hill represent
the tip of the iceberg of government land grabs in the territories.
The Spiegel Report, which was prepared based on Civil Administration
data and revealed by Haaretz three years ago, found that in more than
30 settlements there had been extensive construction of buildings and
infrastructure on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Let´s not delude ourselves that the cases that have reached the High
Court of Justice will solve the deeper, much more serious problem. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/09/12)
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