A-G to PM: Prioritize home demolitions on private Palestinian property

Weinstein urges IDF to adhere to July 24 demolition time-table for demolition of home, road in Amona outpost.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Demolitions of illegal homes on private Palestinian property must be a top priority, Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein said on Thursday in a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
He chastised Netanyahu and Ya’alon for not taking the matter seriously enough. In particular, he remarked that it was important the IDF adhere to the July 24 time-table set for the demolition of a home and a portion of a road built on private Palestinian property in the Amona outpost, located on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement.
He said he could not agree with the lack of enforcement that exists in Area C of the West Bank.
The situation is not satisfactory, Weinstein wrote.
“It violates the rule of law. It violates human rights. It violates personal property rights,” Weinstein added.
He wrote that State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, in a report he presented on Wednesday, attacked the lack of enforcement and criminal investigation into building violations in West Bank Jewish communities.
Criminal enforcement is an important tool, Weinstein said.
But it doesn’t absolve the government from providing clear priorities in this area, he said.
He recalled that in a February 2011 meeting Netanyahu had said that his government’s policy was to remove buildings on private Palestinian property and to authorize structures on state land.
Protecting private property must be high on the governments’ list of priorities, he said.
But the non-governmental group Yesh Din immediately attacked Weinstein’s letter as disingenuous, in light of his statement at the bottom with respect to the Amona outpost.
On behalf of the Palestinian landowners, Yesh Din had petitioned the High Court of Justice against the 50 families that live in Amona. The court had initially ordered the outpost demolished, but at the last moment agreed to delay the demolition in light of settler claims that they had recently purchased some of the property.
The court said it would allow time for the settlers to air their claims before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. But the court said homes on property without purchase claims should be removed by the 24th of this month.
It did not clarify how many homes would need to be removed to satisfy this ruling.
Settlers had said that only one home and a portion of a road needed to be taken down.
But until Weinstein’s letter was made public on Thursday, it was not clear that they were right.
Yesh Din said it estimated that some 30 homes in the outpost should come down on July 24.
“Weinstein’s notice is a clear statement of intent; a clear court decision. If an ordinary citizen did that, they would be jailed,” Yesh Din said.
There is no question that Amona is situated on private Palestinian property, Yesh Din said.
They explained that on the one hand Weinstein speaks of the importance of removing illegal homes on private Palestinian property and on the other hand, he speaks of ignoring a court dictate to remove such structures.
Yesh Din warned that it would petition the High Court of Justice against Weinstein, if the Amona demolition ruling was not carried out on July 24th.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip had no response to Weinstein’s letter.