Security fence near Givat Ze'ev 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Palestinians from El-Jib petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday,
claiming the state has reneged on its promise to enforce demolition orders
against a synagogue built illegally on private land.
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The synagogue was
built without a permit by the Ayelet Hashahar organization on a plot of land
just south of Givat Ze’ev, a West Bank settlement five kilometers northwest of
Jerusalem with some 11,200 residents.
Petitioner Rabah Muhammad Asaf Abd
al-Latif, who lives in El-Jib, southeast of Givat Ze’ev, says the land on which
the synagogue was built is his, and that the state has done nothing to enforce
several demolition orders served on the building.
This is the second time
Abd al-Latif has filed a petition in the High Court over the
Both petitions were filed with the assistance of Yesh Din –
Volunteers for Human Rights.
The first, served in 2008, was withdrawn by
mutual agreement after a November 2009 hearing in which the defense minister,
the IDF commander in the West Bank and the head of the civil administration told
the court they were committed to enforcing demolition orders against the
In that 2009 decision, the court said it was not in a place to
intervene since the state had committed to enforcing the law.
attorney Shlomi Zachary told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday that the court’s
decision was made after the state informed the court it did not dispute
petitioners’ claims that the synagogue was built illegally on Abd al-Latif’s
In response to the first petition, the Givat Ze’ev Municipality
also conceded that the construction was illegal but said the land in question
was outside its jurisdiction, Zachary added.
Significantly, while the
petition was withdrawn, the court ruled that the interim injunction ordering the
Ayelet Hashahar organization to refrain from additional construction would
remain in force pending the demolitions.
However, Zachary said that no
demolitions have taken place and Abd al-Latif still cannot access his
“The final judgement in the previous petition was based on the
state’s commitment to enforcing the demolition of the building,” Zachary
“But over 25 months later we haven’t seen any steps taken to
enforce those demolition orders.”
After the 2009 court ruling to withdraw
the petition, Zachary said Yesh Din sent letters on behalf of Abd al-Latif to
the West Bank authorities asking them to take steps to ensure the synagogue’s
demolition, as they had promised to do in the High Court hearing.
also noted that the police had reopened an investigation into allegations that
the Ayelet Hashahar organization forged ownership documents of the land, and
said he has been informed that the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office is
currently examining the matter.
“The state says that it will work
according to its priorities regarding enforcement,” stated Zachary. “But so far
nothing substantial has happened, and we filed a new petition, because it seems
the state’s commitment is meaningless unless the High Court enforces
In its new petition, Yesh Din accuses the state of a policy of
“deliberate and conscious non-enforcement” against illegal construction on
“The authorities’ resounding failure to prevent the
colossal lawbreaking described in the petition, despite the issuance of stop
work orders because the building is illegal and located on private Palestinian
land, is an ongoing failure that follows years of non-enforcement by the
authorities,” the petition reads.
Yesh Din said that this time, they hope
the court will decide to intervene and order the state to enforce the demolition
orders by a specific date, which Zachary says will make it harder for the
authorities to postpone or ignore the issue.
“It’s time to give real
meaning to those undertakings that were given wholeheartedly to the High Court,”
David Harosh, the Ayelet Hashahar representative named as a
respondent on the petition, was unable to be reached for comment on Wednesday.
However, a member of the local community who preferred not to be named said the
synagogue was a community building serving everyone in the local Givat Ze’ev