State asks High Court to delay Ulpana demolition

Gov't, which had promised to bulldoze the 30 W. Bank homes by May 1, requests additional 90 days from court.

Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated  (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The State Attorney's Office on Friday submitted to the High Court of Justice an appeal to delay the scheduled demolition of the Ulpana outpost by three months.
The state is requesting a new discussion of the petition which led the High Court to order the evacuation of the 30 homes in the West Bank outpost by May 1 because they were built on land classified as private Palestinian property.
The government had originally promised the court that it would bulldoze the homes, but in the appeal submitted Friday, the state requested that it be given 90 days to resubmit its position, and that the demolition of the outpost be frozen, pending this action.
Human rights organization Yesh Din, who helped the Palestinian claimants submit the petition against the outpost in 2008, slammed the government for failing to raze the five stone apartment buildings in which 30 families live as it had promised.
Yesh Din legal consultant Michael Sfard said Friday that the government of Israel had declared war on the rule of law and the court. He added that no private citizen would be allowed to reopen a case which had been ruled on and the state's request to delay the demolition of Ulpana breaks all the rules and laws of the game.
"In order to help settlers steal Palestinian lands, the government is ready to crush the basic principles upon which Israeli society is based," Sfard stated.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom visited the neighborhood located on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement on Friday, speaking with local residents. Shalom stated that he hoped a legal solution could be found that would allow Ulpana residents to remain in their homes, but barring this, legislation could be passed legalizing the outpost.
In the past year, right-wing politicians and residents of Ulpana have lobbied the government to legalize the homes.
Under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the government initiated a policy to demolish unauthorized Jewish homes on private Palestinians property.
Ulpana residents have argued that the Beit El Yeshiva and Amana – the construction arm of the settlement movement – bought the land from Palestinian landowners. They received state-guaranteed mortgages and grants to buy it.
The government and the High Court do not recognize the legality of the sale.
In 2008, the Palestinian claimants petitioned the court against the outpost. In response, the state said it would raze the five stone apartment buildings in which 30 families live.
Still, earlier this month, Netanyahu said that he would work to find a solution to avoid the demolition.
Since the demolition was scheduled by the state and not demanded by the court, the government has some flexibility in this matter. But the court must accept its request.
“The matter needs to be dealt with,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday. He said that although the situation was legally complex, there were alternative solutions to the property dispute.
The prime minister added that it was important to work within the legal system.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that if there was no way to retroactively legalize the homes, the state could build new homes for the Ulpana families on a 22- dunam (2.2-hectare) tract of land elsewhere in Beit El.