State asks High Court for delay on Beit Ezra

Peace now opposes delay of court decision on Hebron shop in use by Jewish family; Palestinians forced to abandon it in 2001.

Peace Now (R390) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Peace Now (R390)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state on Wednesday asked the High Court of Justice for extra time to submit its response regarding two Palestinian market stalls in a Hebron building known as Beit Ezra.
A Hebron Jewish family initially owned the building but was forced to leave in 1947. It then passed into the hands of the state custodian of abandoned properties, first under the Jordanians and then under Israel.
Two Palestinians rented the structure from the custodian and used it for four shops until 2001. At that time, the IDF forced the Palestinians to abandon the market stalls for security reasons.
A few years later, a Jewish family moved into one of the shops and another Jewish family whose apartment abutted the shop incorporated it into their home.
Neither family had a permit to use the property. In 2007 the IDF ordered the families to leave the stalls. A military appeals court, however, said that the families should be allowed to rent the space from the custodian of abandoned properties until such time as the IDF allowed the Palestinians to return to the shops.
The court said it was preferable for the shops to be in use rather than stand empty. In 2010 Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of the Palestinian storekeepers.
On Tuesday the Ministerial Committee on Settlements debated the matter in response to the High Court of Justice edict, ordering the state to submit its position on Beit Ezra by Wednesday.
According to Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein there was broad consensus in support of the Hebron Jewish families, and the initial verdict of the military appeals court.
But other sources told The Jerusalem Post that a state prosecutor had objected to that stance. On Wednesday the state told the court that although a number of meetings had been held on the matter, more time was needed to formulate a response. It asked to be given until September 13 to submit its response.
Also on Wednesday, Dani Dayan, head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, called on the Ministerial Committee on Settlements to support the Hebron Jewish families in its response to the court.
The committee, he said, was created in part to formulate state responses to left-wing petitions to the High Court of Justice against Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.
“If all the committee does is rubber-stamp the prosecutors’ stance, than what purpose does it serve?” he asked.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that her organization has opposed the delay. The case was filed years ago, and nothing has changed since then, “so why does the state need so much time to provide a response?” she asked.
“The state just needs to make a decision,” she added.