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The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria issued stop-work orders against the construction of 11 homes being built on state land without permits in the Neveh Tzuf-Halamish settlement, it informed the High Court of Justice on Thursday.
The move came after a petition filed by Peace Now earlier this month, calling on the state to issue stop-work orders and demolish the homes, which were allegedly being built on land designated for agricultural use in the existing outline plan.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Peace Now in the petition, said on Thursday that the quick action of the civil administration in this case might indicate a change in policy regarding illegal construction by settlers in the West Bank. This was particularly true because the new housing was being erected in an established settlement rather than in an outpost, many of which are considered illegal by the government.
But Sfard said it was too early to be certain about this. There were many cases in which the civil administration had issued demolition orders for illegal structures, but often it did not enforce them.
In fact, Peace Now has several High Court petitions pending in which it calls on the state to implement its own orders against illegal construction in the West Bank.
In the petition, Sfard also said that over five months, the civil administration had failed to respond to three letters from Peace Now bringing the illegal construction to its attention and calling on it to take measures against it in accordance with the law.
It was only on May 5, in a brief reply to Peace Now's fourth letter, that the civil administration acknowledged the complaint and informed the NGO that the information had been turned over to the civil administration's Inspection Unit for study. Five days later, Sfard filed the High Court petition.
Neveh Tzuf-Halamish, in the Binyamin Regional Council, was established in 1977 by two religious settlement garins. In 2006 it had a population of 975.