Court upholds outpost demolition delay

According to the new schedule, the Givat Assaf outpost would now come down in July.

West Bank outpost 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
West Bank outpost 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The High Court of Justice Monday upheld a state request to delay the demolition of the Givat Assaf outpost, located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, which had been scheduled for removal in December.
According to the new schedule, the outpost would now come down in July.
RELATED:State delays Givat Asaf, Amona outpost demolitions
Attorney Michael Sfard, who petitioned the court against the outpost on behalf of Peace Now, said that the legal response did not surprise him.
"Every child in Israel knows by now that the government has no intention of evacuating outposts," Sfard said.
"This delay will only end with another request for an extension," he said, and added that through these kinds of measures, "de facto the government is authorizing outposts." The initial petition involved six outposts, out of which only one Givat Assaf is built entirely on land which, according to the state, is privately owned by Palestinians.
But in December the state still intends to demolish a few homes on two other outposts in the petition, Ramat Gilad and Mitzpe Yitzhar, which are partially constructed on land also classified as private Palestinian property. With respect to the other three, the state has said it believes that they can be authorized.
The demolition delay was a welcome relief to settlers and right-wing politicians who believe that it gives them time to press forward in their battle to compel the state to reclassify as state land outposts or sections of outposts considered by the state to belong to private Palestinians.
Groups such Peace Now and Yesh Din have gone to court on behalf of the Palestinian owners with documented proof of ownership. But settlers and right-wing politicians say they have a contradictory body of evidence showing either that the land was purchased or had been abandoned.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that he would form an outpost committee to explore the land status in the West Bank, including sections of outposts built on private Palestinian property. But he has yet to name the members of that committee.
On Monday, he confirmed to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he would form the panel, according to sources from the meeting.
Pointing to three homes in the Migron outpost which the state demolished in September, Netanyahu defended himself against accusations from left-wing members of the committee that he had not done anything with regard to the outposts.
Unauthorized homes on private Palestinian land should be removed, he said, but it should be done through agreement with the residents and without violence. He added that the issue also needed to be examined to ensure that the land had been properly classified.