State asks court to delay Givat Assaf evacuation

Gov't asks for 7 month delay after it had previously promised that by July 1 it would take down W. Bank outpost’s 25 caravans.

Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The state on Friday asked the High Court of Justice to delay by seven months the evacuation of the Givat Assaf outpost in the West Bank, because it has new evidence with regard to the case.
It did not present or describe that evidence.
The state had previously promised the court that by July 1 it would take down the outpost’s 25 caravans, which are perched on a small hill next to Route 60 and close to the Beit El settlement.
In previous statements to the court, the state had said it believed the outpost was built without permits on private Palestinian property.
The battle to save Givat Assaf has been mostly overshadowed by the larger struggle against the pending demolition by July 1 of five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost, on the outskirts of Beit El.
It was assumed that decisions made with regard to Ulpana would affect Givat Assaf. It is also believed that the state has more leeway with the Givat Assaf outpost, because the court case has not been closed.
Last week residents of the five ulpana apartment buildings agreed to voluntarily evacuate their homes in exchange for gurantees from the state, such as the construction of 300 new homes in the Beit El settlement.
The residents said they also received assurances from the government that in future statements to the court it would not support home demolitions.
The state’s request to the court to delay the Givat Assaf evacuation comes just days after that agreement was reached.
It is also the first judicial document penned under the auspices of the newly created Ministerial Settlements Committee, which now has oversight responsibilities on state responses to the High Court.
The delay, the state told the court on Friday, would allow it time to present the situation to the committee along with the new evidence it had received.
Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer attacked the state’s response.
“The government is once again at the last moment asking to break its promise to the court and to delay the evacuation of an outpost on private Palestinian land. If the government has additional information it should present it to the court and not hide behind global statements,” Oppenheimer said.
He added that he was concerned that the state was now looking to legalize an outpost on private Palestinian property. Peace Now filed the initial petition against the outpost, which was founded in May 2001, after a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed Assaf Hershkowitz as he drove nearby.
Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, however, welcomed the state’s request, which he saw as evidence of a new governmental policy not to demolish outposts.