amona aerial view 248.88.
(photo credit: Peace Now)
Peace Now activist Dror Etkes blasted the High Court of Justice on Wednesday for allowing residents of the illegally built houses in the Amona outpost one week to file a petition against demolition orders issued by the military government in the West Bank 15 months ago.
"The court is making a mockery of everyone, itself, the State Attorney's Office, Peace Now and even the settlers," Etkes told The Jerusalem Post after the court issued its ruling. "It's obvious that the settlers' request to file a petition is nothing more than a delaying tactic to prevent the demolition of the houses."
Peace Now filed the original petition against the government on July 5, 2005, demanding that it carry out the decision it first made in October 2004 to demolish the illegal housing. The court held a hearing on Wednesday to consider a request by occupants of the houses to be added as respondents to the petition. Had the court agreed, the occupants would have had the chance to argue against the Peace Now petition.
Instead, however, a panel of three justices - Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and Justices Edmond Levy and Esther Hayut - made two decisions. First, it decided to reject the Peace Now petition on the grounds that the government had made it clear it intended to demolish the illegal structures very shortly. Secondly, it ordered the government to refrain from demolishing the buildings for one week, thus giving the settlers time to file their own petition against the demolitions.
Etkes charged that the settlers had had many months to file a petition against the orders issued by the military government, first to stop the illegal construction and then to demolish it. "They didn't do it before because they had nothing to say to the court to justify their case," Etkes said. "They don't have anything today, either."
He charged that the court had given the settlers a week for "political" reasons, to appease them. "It's obvious to everyone that what motivated the court was its concern that the radical right wing was trying to delegitimize it," he said.