State asks court for delay in razing W. Bank homes

Ramat Gilad structures erected illegaly on private Palestinian land to go, those found to be on state land will stay.

Ramat Gilad Star of David 311 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Ramat Gilad Star of David 311
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The state asked the High Court of Justice over the weekend for a three-month delay in demolishing illegal structures in the Ramat Gilad outpost, on the outskirts of the West Bank Karnei Shomron settlement.
It had initially promised the court it would remove nine outpost structures, all built on private Palestinian land, by the end of 2011. The pledge came in response to a petition first filed by Peace Now in 2006, and refilled in 2008.
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Instead, on Friday, the state asked for a delay, noting Ramat Gilad residents had reached an agreement with the state, under which they would voluntarily remove the structures by the beginning of March 2012.
The state told the court that it wanted a “peaceful resolution” to the problem of the illegal structures. It added that over the past months it had conducted negotiations with settlers with the help of Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud).
Significantly, the state also said that it was seeking a different solution for 11 additional structures in Ramat Gilad, some of which are built on state land and some on private Palestinian land.
According to the state, the Civil Administration will carry out a detailed mapping survey of the land on which the structures are built, a process that will take three months. After the survey is complete, the state said it would demolish in whole, or in part, those structures found to be on private land.
The state said that for security reasons it would not demolish a large Jewish Star of David, a structure and recreational facilities erected on private Palestinian land on the northern edge of the outpost.
By law, the IDF may only confiscate private Palestinian land in the West Bank for security reasons.
Created in 2001, Ramat Gilad was named for Gilad Zar, who was killed by Palestinians in a drive-by shooting that same year. Gilad’s father, Moshe Zar, has disputed the state’s claim that portions of the outpost are constructed on private Palestinian property.
He has insisted that he purchased those lots. His daughter Michal Shoham and her family live in one of the caravan homes on the outpost.
The state told the court that it would not order the Zar family to cease agricultural use of land in Ramat Gilad, after they agreed to work according to an agreement signed with the state.
Under that agreement, the Zars would not be permitted to start new farming operations on the land, save for seasonal activities.
The court must now respond to the state.
Attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zachary, who represent Peace Now, asked the court on Sunday to reject the state’s response.
In a written statement to the court they stated that the state’s position was “shameful” and he accused it of reneging on its promises to the court.
They took particular issue with the state’s plan not to demolish all the property on private Palestinian land.
Court acceptance of this response, they said, would be sanctioning and legalizing “land theft.”
Absent from the document was any reference to settler claims that in return for the voluntary removal of the nine structures on private Palestinian property, the state would authorize a zoning plan for an area of the Karnei Shomron settlement that includes Ramat Gilad.
Such a move would retroactively legalize outpost homes constructed on state land.
Both Karnei Shomron Council head Herzl Ben-Ari and Dani Dayan who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that they believed the state would make good on this pledge.