'State discriminating against Jews'

Attorney against illegal Palestinian construction makes charges in response to High Court ruling.

January 21, 2010 06:34
2 minute read.
'State discriminating against Jews'

construction tekoa 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

A lawyer for Regavim, an organization fighting illegal construction by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, charged on Wednesday that the state and the High Court of Justice are violating basic civil rights and discriminating against Jews by refusing to demolish illegally built Palestinian housing, including near Mizrat el-Kabilya, in the Ramallah District.

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The lawyer, Doron Nir-Tzvi, was responding to a High Court decision handed down last week rejecting his demand that the state provide a concrete timetable for destroying the Palestinian buildings near Mizrat el-Kabilya, against which the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria had issued demolition orders.

The court accepted the state's response, including an argument to the effect that the army was devoting all its energies to enforcing the government-ordered building freeze in the Jewish settlements and outposts in the West Bank and that the illegal Palestinian building was a low priority matter.

The High Court heard a petition in 2006 which had demanded that the Civil Administration enforce the demolition order and had rejected it on the grounds that the state had the right to determine its own timetable for enforcing demolition orders according to its own set of priorities.

However, on July 12, 2009, in an interim decision regarding a Peace Now petition, the court had rejected the state's argument that it had the right to enforce the orders according to its own priorities. The petition called on the state to enforce demolition orders it had served against illegal construction by Jewish settlers in the illegal outposts of Hayovel and Hersha. It ordered the state to inform the court exactly when it intended to demolish the buildings and to begin holding hearings for those affected by the decision.

In response, Regavim filed a new petition demanding that the state also set a date for demolishing the illegal Palestinian buildings in Mizrat el-Kabilya. It said the interim decision regarding the Peace Now petition established new case law, and therefore the court should reconsider its earlier decision to allow the state to set its own date with regard to the illegal Palestinian buildings.

Last week, the High Court accepted the state's position and rejected the petition. "The state stressed that of late there has been a substantial change regarding the matter of enforcing the planning and building laws and this is because of the [housing-start freeze] and the high priority given to the enforcement of this decision. This obliges the state to focus its resources on enforcing it."

According to Regavim, "the state prosecution has officially admitted that enforcing the building freeze against the settlers obliges it to ignore illegal Palestinian construction."

The state, in its response to the petition, added that while the demolition of the buildings in Mizrat el-Kabilya was of low priority, the army gave high priority to demolishing illegal Palestinian construction which posed a threat to security. The state said it had destroyed six illegal Palestinian structures in the past few weeks and intended to destroy 20 more by the end of January.

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