Prime Minister to Convene Special Ulpana Committee (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gabe Kahn 05/10/12)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday will convene a special
committee to discuss potential ways to avert the destruction of five
homes in Beit El´s Ulpana neighborhood.
The committee will include Netanyahu, newly minted Vice Premier and
Minister Without Portfolio Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Yaakov
Neeman, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon," and
Minister Benny Begin.
Senior officials from the IDF Civil Administration have been asked to
attend the meeting as well.
Netanyahu is said to be mulling two options: ordering an
administrative seizure of the land the houses sit on by the IDF, or
Several senior ministers in the coalition have pushed for legislation
that would mandate financial compensation or alternative land grants
in lieu of eviction and demolition in cases where a court determines
a claim to the land is valid.
However, the Supreme Court has ruled Israeli law does not apply in
Judea and Samaria, which has never been annexed and remains under
Problematically, the Supreme Court has also ruled that administrative
actions taken by a government are subject to more comprehensive
review by the courts than legislation is.
Likud MK Miri Regev has called for Netanyahu to solve the problem by
annexing all state lands in Jewish communities in the region, thereby
extending Israeli law to all threatened communities in the region.
Netanyahu´s race to find a solution comes on the heels of the Supreme
Court´s rejection of a government petition asking for an additional
90 days in which to explore the matter.
The threatened homes were built on land purchased by Beit El several
years ago. However, the seller turned out not to be the real owner
and the latter filed suit to get his land back. The court ruled in
his favor and the government agreed, without argument, to destroy the
One year later, the government´s legal office came to survey the site
and realized that the buildings in question were permanent apartment
blocks, built in good faith by people who thought they had legal
ownership, and that the legal office should have asked the courts to
allow them to try and find a way to solve the ownership problem
before the court issued a ruling.
The issue has also dredged up an ongoing controversy about the
Supreme Court´s exercise of judicial review to nullify laws – and in
this case, government policies – it deems “unconstitutional” in the
absence of a formal Israeli constitution.
Sixteen years ago the Israeli Supreme Court decided in the Mizrahi
case that Israel´s "Basic Laws" amount to Israel´s formal
Constitution and it enjoys the power of judicial review.
However, in the absence of a clear separation of powers between
branches of government in Israel´s Basic Laws – including those of
the court itself – the extent of that power, and whether it is
exercised prudently, remains deeply connected to the personality of
the sitting justices.
The issue has been rendered more accute by the fact that the Supreme
Court´s ruling - applied in areas deemed ´disputed territories´ by
Israel - does not merely deal with simple land-ownership issues, but
crosses the line into sovereign questions of foreign relations and
national security as well.
Critics say that judicial review – as it has been wielded to date –
has raised disturbing and difficult questions about the sovereign
will of Israel’s voters when government policies concerning
diplomatic, political, and security issues are overridden.
As a result, either path – legislation or a seizure order – could
place Netanyahu´s newly forged 94-seat supermajority on a collision
course with the Supreme Court. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 05/10/12)
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