Shiloh settlement in West Bank 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The High Court of Justice ordered the state on Tuesday to notify the court
within 60 days regarding its intention to open a criminal investigation into
unauthorized construction in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh.
panel of three justices – Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Neal Handel – also
ordered the state to update the court regarding the issue of continued
construction plans in Shiloh.
The ruling came after the court heard a
petition on Monday filed by Peace Now regarding unauthorized construction of
residential housing units in the settlement, northeast of Ramallah.
Now claims the construction, on three areas of designated state land, is illegal
because the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council has not received appropriate
planning permits from the Defense Ministry.
The state informed the High
Court on Sunday that the Defense Ministry decided to retroactively approve
building plans in Shiloh, a move that will legalize 119 residential units in the
The petition relates to three different areas in Shilo, one
of which was officially zoned as agricultural lands, and which cannot be used
for residential building. In order to legalize building on that land, the state
must now undertake a public process, during which members of the public will be
allowed 60 days to voice any opposition to the zoning changes.
this year Peace Now had contacted the Judea and Samaria regional police and the
deputy attorney-general asking for a criminal investigation into the
unauthorized construction by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, who is also
named as a respondent on the petition. In Monday’s High Court hearing, attorney
Michal Friedlander, for the state, said that that a decision has not yet been
made regarding a criminal investigation.
“That’s something that the state
attorney’s office is looking into,” said Friedlander, who told the court that
“senior officials” were currently examining whether to open an
Attorney Michael Sfard, for Peace Now, told The Jerusalem
on Tuesday that the state attorney’s office should open an
“It is embarrassing and disappointing that one needs to
file High Court petitions to ensure criminal investigations into circumstances
where there is no doubt that illegal construction is taking place,” Sfard
“This kind of inactivity is typical of law enforcement authorities
over illegal construction in Israeli-controlled sectors of the West
Attorney Akiva Sylvetsky, for the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council,
told the Post
that even if a criminal investigation is opened it will not
necessarily result in any indictments being filed against any
The High Court said in its ruling that after the parties have
submitted their reports, the justices will make a decision regarding how to
continue with the petition.
Separately, the High Court of Justice on
Monday upheld a state request to delay the demolition of the Givat Assaf
outpost, located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, which had been
scheduled for removal in December.
According to the new schedule, the
outpost would now come down in July.
But the state still intends to
demolish several homes in December in two other outposts, Ramat Gilad and Mitzpe
Yitzhar, which are partially constructed on land also classified as private
Palestinian property.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.