elon moreh building.
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The state told the High Court of Justice on Monday that although the settlers in Kiryat Netafim had violated a court-ordered interim injunction prohibiting them from continuing to work on houses built without permits, no punitive measures should be taken against them and the court should not intervene.
The state’s representative, Attorney Hila Gorney, was replying in court to a contempt of court petition and a petition by the left-wing Peace Now movement to extend the court’s interim injunction so that it would also apply to the state, ordering it “to take all necessary measures to prevent the occupation of the houses that are the subject of this petition by any person or for any use and to immediately take all necessary action to prevent any [further] construction work.”
The state admitted that the settlers had indeed continued building after the court injunction was issued, and had completed the doors, windows and roof, as well as the plastering of the buildings.
Justice Salim Joubran asked Gorney, “You yourself say the injunction was violated and the question is when the state reaches the conclusion that a Supreme Court order has been violated, what does it do about it? What operative measures have you taken?”
Gorney replied, “We are considering the options available to us.”
Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin, the presiding justice, continued to press, saying, “There was a request to extend the interim order and you were supposed to come here with an answer.”
Gorney replied, “We know all this. Our position is that the court should not intervene in the state’s freedom to decide in these matters. As far as fencing off the area is concerned, we will consider this as well.”
But Rivlin persisted.
“The question is whether you ought to have thought about it prior to today’s hearing,” he said. “The petitioners say there is a certain situation and the state has to explain what it is doing about it. They maintain that the state has done nothing and therefore they have come to the court to remedy the situation.”
Gorney replied that Kiryat Netafim was not the only place where the settlers had broken the law, implying that it was not for the court to determine the state’s priorities.
Attorney Akiva Silvetzky, the lawyer representing Kiryat Netafim, the Samaria Regional Council and Amana (the right-wing Gush Emunim’s settlement movement), told the court that a new outline plan had been prepared that would pave the way for granting permits for the houses as soon as it was approved. Once they were legalized, the Peace Now petition would be irrelevant.
“What’s important here is the intention to move along. We believe there
is no justification for leaving the petition pending, even if it takes
a long time [to approve the outline plan and retroactively grant
permits for the houses]. In my opinion, there is no reason to consider
the demolition of the buildings at this time.”
Peace Now lawyer Shlomi Zecharya charged that what the state was asking
of the court was to leave an illegal situation unaddressed.
“I do not believe that the court can accept the state’s inaction,” he said.
The court said it would hand down its decision on the requests by the petitioners and the state at a later date.