Court chastises government's 'disturbing' conduct on outpost

“In many instances, all of the needed information for a decision was not brought before us... and was not always accurate... this is unacceptable," said former justice Miriam Naor.

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January 3, 2018 01:07
2 minute read.
Israel's High Court of Justice

Israel's High Court of Justice. (photo credit: ISRAELTOURISM / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The High Court of Justice called the state’s conduct regarding the unauthorized Adei Ad outpost near Shiloh “disturbing” and froze any new building there, while it rejected a petition to immediately remove disputed portions of the settlement.

The court decision late Monday also set multiple deadlines: It gave the government 90 days to determine which parts of the disputed area are privately owned Palestinian land and which are state-owned, and allowed nine months to retroactively legalize portions of the outpost. Absent that process being completed by then, the court granted the petitioner, Yesh Din, the right to refile its petition to remove the residences in question.

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The “disturbing” comment referred to the court’s perception that the state repeatedly was not forthcoming in real time with all the information it had, leading to changes in the government’s legal positions, which wasted the court’s time.

“In many instances, all of the needed information for a decision was not brought before us... and was not always accurate....Many times the concealed exceeded the revealed... this is unacceptable. Every lawyer is obligated to assist the court,” wrote former justice Miriam Naor, who continues to write for the court on cases over which she presided before her retirement.

Further, the court said it was disturbed that the state did not deny that some previously removed, unauthorized structures had recently been rebuilt, particularly in Adei Ad, which was established in 1998.

The outpost was partially built on land belonging to residents of the villages of Turmus Aiya, Almagor, Qaryut and Jalud.

In 2014, Yesh Din petitioned the court on behalf of those villages, demanding the court order the state to remove the outpost. The petition claimed Adei Ad was built on private land and had become a hub of criminal and systematic violence against Palestinians.

By September 2015, the state agreed the outpost was unauthorized, but said it would legalize those portions built on government land and remove only those portions built on private Palestinian land.

Then, in February 2017, the “settlement regulations law” was passed. The law empowered various state bodies to legalize a range of unauthorized Jewish settlements on private Palestinian land by providing the owners with compensation.

The state then notified the High Court that it would need to reexamine the possibility of retroactively legalizing additional portions of the outpost in light of the new law.

Yesh Din said in February 2017 that the big change was the state seeking to reevaluate whether the law would allow it to legalize some Jewish residences on private Palestinian land in Adei Ad, which it was prepared to demolish earlier.

The NGO also said the state claimed – after completing a new survey – that half of the residences it formerly said were on private Palestinian land, were in fact, on state land.

The court’s freeze is wide-ranging regarding new building, and the decision meticulously included several examples designed to eliminate loopholes.

There are broader implications to the court’s action. It wrote that the state should not interpret the allowance in the Adei Ad case to reevaluate whether to “retroactively legalize certain structures... as blanket permission in the future” to attempt the same legal maneuver for other unauthorized outposts.

“The court focused harsh criticism on the state’s conduct... but... declined to give relief to Palestinian farmers whose land was stolen from them and who have been exposed to violence from Israeli citizens,” Yesh Din said.

A spokeswoman for Adei Ad had not yet responded to inquiries by press time.


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