High Court issues injunction against authorization of the Beit El homes

West Bank settlement's local governing council has until August 5 to appeal injunction.

July 26, 2015 22:41
2 minute read.
beit el

Sunday night prayer service to protest pending demolition of 24 apartment units in Beit El, July 26, 2015. (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE BEIT EL COUNCIL)

The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued a temporary injunction forbidding the Beit El settlement’s local governing bodies from authorizing 24 homes that are slated for demolition by Thursday.

The Beit El Council has until August 5 to appeal the injunction.

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In June the High Court ordered the demolition of 24 illegal units in two apartment buildings that are under construction in Beit El, located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

Since then, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria issued all the necessary authorizations for the project, save for a building permit which the contractor must receive from the governing bodies of Beit El.

To halt final approval of the project, the NGO Yesh Din together with the Palestinian property owners and petitioned the court for such an injunction. They also asked the court to rescind the civil administration’s authorizations for the project, as well as the initial 1979 land seizure order that allowed the IDF to take the property from its Palestinian owners and include it within the boundaries of the Beit El settlement.

The civil administration’s “crazed” attempt to retroactively legalize the project shows the seriousness by which they view these proceedings and the degree to which they disregard Palestinian property rights, said attorney Shlomi Zachary, who represents both Yesh Din and the Palestinian property owners before the court.

Yesh Din has argued that, since the land in question was not used and a master plan was not developed for it until recently, it should be returned to the Palestinians.

The High Court of Justice has rejected prior attempts by Yesh Din to rescind the 1979 land seizure order, but it has twice ruled in favor of razing the two buildings because they were illegally constructed.

It ordered the two building demolished in September 2014 and again in June, when it rejected an appeal by the contractor who argued that the demolition was unnecessary because the project would likely be legalized.

When the contractor first began working on the project in 2010 without the necessary permits, the state issued stopwork orders against it. In response to a 2012 Yesh Din petition, the contractor told the court that he would remove the structures.

But the court took a stance in favor of the project after the government worked out with Beit El to secure the voluntary evacuation of the Ulpana outpost in the summer of 2012.

In its June ruling, the High Court said the issue at hand is not the possibility that the property could be legalized, but the fact that the structures had been built without authorizations.

Beit El spokesman Yael Ben-Yashar said the council is planning its own petition to the High Court to rescind the demolition orders.

On Sunday night, a prayer service was held in support of the buildings and a tent city in the settlement is planned to protest their demolition.

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