Homes in the Beit El settlement, West Bank .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Civil Administration is moving to win retroactive approval for two apartment buildings in the Beit El settlement, which are facing demolition by order of the High Court of Justice due to their construction on privately owned Palestinian land.
The court had ordered the state to demolish the buildings by July 30, but the order will now be challenged by Beit El municipal authorities.
The decision to fight the ruling was made last Wednesday following pressure from Habayit Hayehudi and its constituent National Union party, but the announcement was made Monday.
The National Union party, headed by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, threatened on Sunday to vote against the government on critical Knesset votes if the legal status of the buildings was not formalized.
Following a drawn-out legal battle in September 2014, the High Court ruled that the land upon which the apartments blocks, known as the Dreinoff buildings, sit on private Palestinian property.
It added that there was no master plan for the property lots in question and that no building permits had been issued for the construction.
The contractor first began work on the housing project in 2010, even though he lacked the necessary authorizations to do so.
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The project is in an area of Beit El that lacks a master plan, and without such a plan the Civil Administration cannot approve such a project.
In that same year, legal advocacy group Yesh Din petitioned the High Court on behalf of the Palestinian property owners, who were from the nearby village of Dura al-Kara. The state initially told the court it would take down the homes by April 2012.
But the state changed its stance and agreed to push to legalize the property as part of a deal it worked out with Beit El to secure the voluntary evacuation of the Ulpana outpost next to the settlement in the summer of 2012.
Despite that, efforts to legalize the buildings by the Civil Administration were not completed, and the High Court ordered the buildings demolished in September 2014 and again in June this year.
Following the ruling of the subcommittee, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon can now approve the construction plans. Once approval has been secured, a petition will be made to the High Court requesting it to cancel its demolition order.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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