Givat Assaf sign 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state must remove homes on private Palestinian property in the unauthorized West Bank outposts of Ma’aleh Rehavam, Mitzpe Yitzhar and Givat Assaf by Sunday, to satisfy a High Court of Justice mandate.
The HCJ issued its order in November in response to a 2007 petition by Peace Now, which targeted six unauthorized West Bank outposts, the three mentioned above, as well as Mitzpe Lachish, Givat Haroeh and Ramat Gilad.
Peace Now had initially asked the HCJ to order the removal of all six outposts under the claim that they were built illegally – without proper authorizations.
The state, however, in its responses to the court said it had plans to authorize the six outposts, if legally possible, but had not yet done so.
In November 2013, the HCJ ordered the state to stop “dragging its feet.”
It said that homes on private property in three of the outposts must be removed by May 18.
It further ordered the state to explain what steps it has since taken to legalize the six outposts.
The court order pushes the state to publicly specify ways it advanced the legalization of communities in the West Bank, precisely at a moment when it is refraining from such activity to assuage the Americans and deflect international attention in the direction of the Fatah- Hamas unity pact.
It is unclear precisely how many homes the state must remove as of Sunday. But settlers are gearing up to battle the decree in the Ma’aleh Rehavam outpost, located just outside the Nokdim settlement in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
On Monday, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl wrote a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in which he asked him to refrain from taking down, what he calculated to be, eight homes.
He said that his council and the outpost residents had for the last six months attempted to avert the HCJ decree.
“We have held many meetings with officials from the Defense Ministry, including from the minister’s office, as well as with legal experts,” Perl said.
He said that the outpost was home to 30 families and built entirely on state land, even though the HCJ said that some of the homes are on private Palestinian property.
Perl said that the court had erred and that these eight structures were on state land and housed families with children.
“Most of these Ma’aleh Rehavam residents do not intend to willingly evacuate their homes,” Perl said, and added that he supported this decision.
He said that he believed that the homes could be authorized with some flexibility on the part of the Defense Ministry.
“It is still not too late to stop the demolitions,” he said.