The High Court of Justice hammered the state on Sunday for its inability to
answer basic questions about the status of six West Bank outposts designated for
On June 22, the state had asked for a seven-month delay for
evacuating various outposts, including Givat Assaf.
Prior to June 22, the
state had previously promised the court that by July 1 it would take down Givat
Assaf’s 25 caravans, which are perched on a small hill next to Route 60 and
close to the Beit El settlement.
On Sunday, the state maintained that it
should have more time to address the issue of evacuation because it had not
sorted out the details regarding which parts of the outposts may have been newly
purchased by Jewish settlers.
The court demanded to know what percentage
of the outposts had been newly purchased and the names of the purchasers, among
other basic information.
When the state was unable even to answer these
questions, the court lectured the state repeatedly about how the hearing could
not continue without any concrete information.
The state retorted that
even though it had admitted that the land in question was private Palestinian
land, it should have more time to respond, both to address the property rights
issues which invariably take time to verify and complete, and because the case
at stake is of high public interest.
Peace Now attorney Michael Sfard
added to the court’s criticism that the state was not prepared.
stated that since the state was getting more time to respond, when it does so,
it should account for new building being carried out at the outposts in
violation of the directive to evacuate the outposts.
The state found
itself repeatedly apologizing for its lack of readiness, although the state
attorney did mention that part of the issue was a result of the late receipt of
information from other sources.
Despite the hearing being cut short, over
20 involved activists and lawyers were in attendance as well as a major from the
office of the Judea and Samaria legal adviser to assist and provide information
to the parties.
Up until the last second before the judges entered the
room, the sides were frantically huddling and exchanging information in
different parts of the court room.
The court ordered the state and all
settler parties to produce their information between mid-October and November 1,
after which Peace Now will respond on November 15 and the court will decide how
to move forward with the case.
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Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.