State asks to delay legalizing outpost homes

Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Peace Now and Yesh Din, argue that the state must legalize the outpost homes or take them down.

Eliraz Peretz home 311 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Eliraz Peretz home 311
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The state has asked to delay legalization of outpost homes in Harisha and HaYovel in a High Court of Justice hearing on Wednesday.
It also asked to delay action with regard to a 1,400-meter road built on private Palestinian property that links HaYovel with the Eli settlement.
The hearing linked the two petitions on the subjects.
Peace Now filed the first petition in 2005, against six illegal homes in Harisha and 12 in HaYovel. Yesh Din filed the second petition against the road in 2009.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Peace Now and Yesh Din, argued that the state must legalize the outpost homes or take them down.
Sfard also said that, regardless of other issues in the case, the state should immediately demolish those portions of the road that are on land that it has already admitted is private Palestinian land and which it would not be trying to legalize at any point.
He added that the state’s request for a delay was simply a tactic to avoid taking any controversial step.
Authorizing outpost construction runs counter to pledges Israel has made to the international community, he said.
In the last number of years, the state has made bold statements about legalizing such construction, which in the case of Harisha would involve the creation of a new settlement, but it has been loath to take steps to do so.
Harisha was built in the 1990s with the help of NIS 1.6 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry.
There are eight permanent homes and 60 caravans on the site.
Located on the outskirts of the Eli settlement, Hayovel was created in 1998 with the help of NIS 250,000 from the Construction and Housing Ministry. It has 16 permanent homes and 30 caravans.
But when Peace Now filed its petition in 2005, it only asked the state to take action against homes in both outposts that were under construction, 12 in Hayovel and six in Harisha.
The six in Harisha were on state land and in Hayovel, three of the homes were on private land and nine on disputed land.
The Hayovel hearing on that claim is scheduled for December 18-20.
Peace Now, however, in its petition did not represent any Palestinian landowners, but rather sought through the court’s help to stop illegal West Bank construction.
In 2010, the state said it was studying land issues relating to the outposts, but that its intent was to authorize construction where possible.
Since then, however, Palestinians have filed appeals to a military appeals committee regarding West Bank land, claiming ownership of some of the property on both outposts.
The state has now told the court that it wants to wait for the completion of those proceedings before it takes any action to legalize outpost homes or to demolish the road from Eli to Hayovel.
In a document it filed last week with the court, the state noted that on October 22 and November 14, it had performed tours and had not noted any new or illegal construction in the Harasha or Hayovel areas.
The state still noted that it had not fully completed mapping out which areas it was seeking to legalize.
In the petition with regard to the road, Yesh Din represents Palestinians from the nearby village of Kuryot, the bulk of whose land is in Area B of the West Bank. But some of it, where the road is located, is in Area C, under Israeli military control.
The state argued that some of the road had to be maintained as its destruction would make it impossible for residents of Hayovel to come to or leave from the outpost.
With the mapping and some of the legal challenges still up in the air, the state asked the court to follow past court decisions that have deferred a final ruling on the issues.
But Sfard said that the state could still have begun some of the legalization procedures, but had not done so. Similarly it had ignored previous orders to demolish illegal building and portions of the road.
The petitioners initially claimed that the whole road was built illegally on private Palestinian land owned by a resident of Kuryot.
The petition claimed that they filed the petition after the settlers in the area ignored IDF orders to stop work on the road and demolish it.
In April 2009, the court issued an interim order against any activity continuing building the road.
Yesh Din claimed that this court order was violated, causing it to seek another order by the court to stop the activity.