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State wants to change unauthorized outpost policy
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
04/29/2012
Gov’t asks to be released from pledge to demolish Ulpana homes this week, says decisions must take policy impact into account.
 
The state is looking to change its policy mandating the blanket removal of unauthorized Jewish structures on private Palestinian property in the West Bank, the attorney-general told the High Court of Justice on Friday.

The government still prioritizes dealing with this issue, the state said, but each case cannot be viewed through the same narrow lens.

Decisions regarding the outposts must be made also from a global perspective that take into account the policy impact on other such cases, the state said.

Not all instances of unauthorized construction on private Palestinian property are alike, the state said, and the impact of home demolitions in a certain region, must also be taken into account, it added.

In light of this pending policy shift, the state on Friday asked the court to release it from its pledge to remove 30 such homes in the Ulpana outpost by Tuesday, which are constructed on land the state classified as belonging to private Palestinians.

The state had made that pledge last year in response to a 2008 petition Yesh Din filed on behalf of the property owners.

On Friday the state told the court that it planned to submit a new government policy within 90 days regarding unauthorized construction in the West Bank, including with respect to Jewish homes on private Palestinian property.

It further asked the court to re-open the case regarding the Ulpana homes and to reexamine it based on that new policy. It also noted that it was concerned by some factual discrepancies that had been presented to the court with respect to the Ulpana homes.

At present, the state said, the High Court deals with petitions with respect to unauthorized West Bank construction on a case-by-case basis, even though a decision in one case has implications on others.

The issue of the Ulpana, the state said, is a good example of an individual case with broad based implications for other outposts and homes in settlements built on private Palestinian property.

The state said that this case would impact similar pledges it made to the court to remove homes in the outposts of Givat Assaf by July 1 and in Amona by the end of this year. According to the state, these homes were also constructed on private Palestinian property.

Separately, the state noted that the High Court of Justice has also ordered the removal of all the structures in the Migron outpost by August 1.

The state said the Ulpana homes, built on the outskirts of Beit El, were not the only instances in that settlement of construction on private Palestinian property.

At the same time that it debated the Ulpana case, the court also examined a Yesh Din case regarding unfinished construction in the Beit El settlement on private Palestinian property, the state said.

Earlier this month the state asked for a delay in the planned demolition date of those structures to allow for the authorization of a zoning plan for that area of the settlement.

In March a meeting on the issue was held with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Justice Ministry, the Civil Administration and settler leaders. The Civil Administration explained that outside of these two areas, there were other homes in Beit El, in some cases structures from the 1980s, which were built without property authorization on private Palestinian land.

Similar situations exist in other West Bank settlements, the state said.

On Sunday, the High Court of Justice is expected to hold a hearing with respect to the state’s request earlier this month to delay the demolition of unfinished homes in Beit El.
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