High Court orders Ulpana homes demolished by July 1

State has failed to find reason for “exceptional remedy of reopening legal proceedings,” says Supreme Court President, notes judgements must be executed within period prescribed by the court.

Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the state to demolish five apartment buildings housing 30 families in the West Bank Ulpana outpost by July 1.
The ruling by justices Salim Joubran, Uzi Vogelman and Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis rejected a request by the state to reopen the Ulpana case, so that the legal status of the land on which the homes were built could be reexamined.
It also turned down a request by the state to allow 60 days so that it could reassess its outpost policy.
Grunis said the court had examined the state’s claims, but had “not found it proper to grant the request to reopen the proceedings.”
Grunis said that the principle of the court was that once a judgment had been made in a case, then there could be no further discussion on the matter, and that court hearings would end, and no party could be subject to further proceedings for the same cause.
“This principle is in the public interest,” the Supreme Court president added. “It allows the legal process to be delimited, and prevents harassment of a litigant over the same issue, and it prevents double jeopardy, and it ensures the proper operation of the justice system.”
This same principle, Grunis said, also reflects the separation of powers in that it marked the end of the judiciary’s handling of an issue.
Execution of the court’s judgment, Grunis added, was not the domain of the judiciary but was passed to the executive branch of the government.
The Supreme Court president also noted that court judgments must be executed within the period prescribed by the court.
Grunis said that the court had not found the state’s arguments to be exceptional, and noted that the state’s main argument was that the political leadership wished to review the implementation of their policies on West Bank outposts.
“The state has not pointed to any legal precedent that supports its request to reopen the case, nor has it revealed any new facts to back up its request,” Grunis said, noting that the state knew before the court’s September ruling on Ulpana that the settlers had commenced civil legal proceedings to clarify the land ownership issue.
“What, then, is the reason to grant the exceptional remedy of reopening legal proceedings that had been heard for several years, the main facts of which the state does not refute, and about which an injunction has been issued that includes the state’s obligations to act a certain way?” Grunis asked.
Grunis said that though the court did not find any grounds to grant the state’s request to reopen the case, the justices would allow the state a 60-day delay to implement the demolition orders.
The court also ordered the state to pay the petitioners’ court fees of NIS 15,000.
The High Court also rejected a request by three Meretz MKs, including MK Zehava Gal-On, and by MK Ahmad Tibi, to join the petition.
“The MKs’ claims and those of their factions have already been presented clearly and exhaustively by the petitioners and we are convinced that their addition [to the petition] will add nothing to the debate,” Grunis said.
The Ulpana homes were built without the proper permits on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians.
In 2008, Yesh Din petitioned the High Court of Justice against the homes on behalf of Palestinian claimants to the land.
Settlers have claimed that the land was purchased from Palestinians by a yeshiva in Beit El and Amana, the construction arm of the settlement movement.
The outpost was built on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement with funding from the Construction and Housing Ministry and the homeowners received state grants and bank mortgages.
The High Court, however, has not recognized the legality of the sale. The land status is now under adjudication before a Jerusalem District Court in a civil proceeding.
Last May, the state said it planed to take down the homes within a year. The court then closed the case in September.