State weighs legalizing Jewish homes in Beit El

Gov’t requests delay in demolishing 5 uncompleted apartment buildings on Palestinian property in W. Bank settlement.

Apartments slated for demolition 465 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Apartments slated for demolition 465
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The state is weighing legalizing Jewish building on a plot of land that belongs to a Palestinian from the West Bank village of Dura al-Qara and is located within the Beit El settlement.
The state made this statement in a document it submitted to the court last week requesting a delay in the pending demolition of five Jewish apartment buildings on the property, which are still under construction.
It’s the second time this month that the state has said it would consider legalizing such construction in Beit El.
Last week as well, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he would look for options that would allow the state to avoid demolishing five populated apartment buildings on the outskirts of Beit El, in an outpost known as the Ulpana.
Both moves are contrary to the state’s policy under Netanyahu to remove unauthorized construction on private Palestinian property.
In response to a petition filed by Yesh Din, the state had promised the High Court of Justice that it would demolish the five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost, which house 30 families, at the end of April.
The other five structures are under construction, and already last year the court issued a stop work order against them.
On April 7, 2011, the state – also in response to a Yesh Din petition – promised the court that it would remove the five structures within a year.
On Thursday, April 5, it asked the court to delay the demolitions until the end of May, in light of the Passover holiday and three upcoming Palestinian activist events including the Bi’lin conference, which begins Tuesday, Palestinian prisoner day on the 17th and Nakba Day on May 15.
In its statement to the court, the state made no mention of information that it provided last year, which explained that the land on which the structures were built belonged to a resident of the nearby village of Dura al-Qara.
Instead, it explained that additional evidence regarding the construction of the buildings had been collected and presented to a ministerial committee that met on March 28 that included Likud ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Bennie Begin as well as Cabinet Secretary Tzvika Hauser. Relevant representatives from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria as well as the Justice and Defense ministries were also present.
The state said that it was weighing the possibility of authorizing building plans and that the matter would be brought before Netanyahu.
According to Yesh Din, the land on which the Beit El settlement was constructed was seized from the Palestinian village of Dura al-Qara in 1970 for military purposes. A civilian community was begun there in 1977.
According to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, the land on which the five structures sit are outside the settlements master plan but are part of the land initially seized by the state in 1970.
A master plan and a building plan would be needed for that land, she said. The five Ulpana apartments also lack these documents, she said. But, she added, the land on which they are situated was not included in the 1970 seizure order.