El Matan synagogue 311.
(photo credit: Gur Dotan)
The state agreed on Thursday to accept a written argument from settlers by
Sunday against sealing an unauthorized synagogue in the El Matan outpost in
However, the synagogue’s attorney, Yitzhak Bam, has appealed to
the state to hold an oral hearing and to have it at a later date so there is
sufficient time to prepare for it.
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Meanwhile, attorney Michael Sfard,
legal adviser to Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, which originally
petitioned against the synagogue, charged that the state did not have the
authority to hold any hearing for Bam because the order to seal the synagogue
had been made by the High Court of Justice and was not an administrative
decision by the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.
“When it comes
to administrative orders, there are circumstances in which there is a right to a
hearing,” said Sfard. “But when the order comes from the court, there is no such
right, because only the court has the authority to cancel it.”
Danon (Likud) said he believed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had personally
intervened on behalf of the synagogue.
“I want to commend the prime
minister for getting involved in this delicate issue after I approached him with
a personal letter, and I am sure that after the hearing, the synagogue will be
saved,” said Danon.
The state’s decision to allow a written argument came
after Justice Hanan Meltzer on Wednesday rejected a request by a petitioner to
issue an interim injunction prohibiting the civil administration from sealing up
the illegally built synagogue in El Matan.
At the same time, however, he
left the door open for the state to offer a hearing to Bam.
representing the petitioner, Yoel Bloch, who said he worshipped at the illegal
Bloch had requested the interim injunction and petitioned the
High Court of Justice to order the state to grant a hearing to the settlers
before deciding whether to seal the building. Bloch argued that the settlers
should be given a hearing just as Palestinians had been granted a hearing before
the civil administration decided to demolish an illegally built
Earlier on Wednesday, the state urged the court to reject Bloch’s
request, maintaining that the situations of the synagogue and the mosque were
different and it was unlikely the court would accept the petition and order the
state to grant a hearing to the settlers before sealing up the
Therefore, it said, there was no reason to grant the interim
Furthermore, the Defense Ministry had promised that it would
seal the building in such a way that it could be unsealed if the court
eventually ordered the state to do so, the state added.
arguments, the state added in the last paragraph of its brief that it “would not
oppose, above and beyond the letter of the law, holding a hearing and postponing
the sealing of the structure until it was held, and pending its
Meltzer replied that he did not oppose such a move.
outpost is located about 1 kilometer south (and inside the official boundaries)
of the Ma’aleh Shomron settlement.
The fight over the synagogue began
last year, when the village mukhtars petitioned the High Court to order the
state to carry out stop-work orders issued against the structure, which was
built on land that lacked a detailed plan and therefore could not get a building
At the request of the petitioners, the court issued an interim
injunction banning further work on the building.
On June 7, the state
informed the court that the settlers were continuing to build. As a result, it
promised to seal the building “in the next few days.” The court ordered the
state to do so within 60 days.
A few days later, the Samaria Settlers’
Committee petitioned the court against the decision to seal up the synagogue.
The court rejected the petition and reiterated its earlier ruling, based on the
state’s promise that the synagogue would be sealed up within 60
Bloch’s petition was another effort to prevent that from happening.