'State’s failure to act encourages illegal construction'

Yesh Din report charges that state's failure to raze unauthorized settler homes initial steps encourages building illegally.

Migron Israel Flag 311 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Migron Israel Flag 311
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The state asked for 25 delays over a six-year period in responding to a High Court of Justice request for information regarding pending home demolitions in the outposts of Haresha and Hayovel, according to a Yesh Din report released Monday.
The report, which looked at 16 court cases, charged that the state’s failure to raze unauthorized settler homes and its initial steps to retroactively legalize them, encourages such illegal building activity.
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Although the 28-page document spoke of the state’s failure to prevent unauthorized construction largely in outposts and to enforce demolition orders, it also examined the state’s slow process of response, once a court case was filed.
The Yesh Din report was issued just one month after the state demolished three unauthorized homes at the Migron outpost.
While right-wing politicians and settlers are concerned that this is just the start of a number of pending court-ordered housing demolitions of unauthorized structures, possibly numbering 160, Yesh Din on Monday presented a document chronicling the state’s delay in acting on such homes.
In the case of Haresha and Hayovel, the state argued before the court for six years that it needed more time to formulate its position, Yesh Din said. As a result, it added there have been only three hearings on the matter.
The report noted a similar pattern in other cases.
With regard to a case filed in September 2007 by Peace Now, involving six outposts, the state filed 10 requests to extend its response deadline, Yesh Din said in its report.
The state asked for 14 such extensions over the last five years with regard to Migron, according to Yesh Din. Only in August did the court finally rule to demolish the outpost by the end of March.
Since Yesh Din filed a 2009 case seeking enforcement of demolition orders in the Rehalim outpost, the state has delayed providing information eight times. The state has since said it is examining the legal status of the outpost.
Out of the 16 cases examined in the report, 13 involved illegal construction. The cases were filed after the state failed to prevent illegal construction from occurring. In 11 of the cases, the court issued an interim order to freeze the situation on the ground, once the case was filed.
“Five of those orders were violated, and construction continued on the ground despite court orders forbidding it specifically,” according to the report.
“There has been a pattern of violation of judicial orders issued by the Supreme Court, violations which themselves are not met with an adequate response by the law enforcement authorities,” said Yesh Din.
“The policy of turning a blind eye... is another expression of the weakness of the rule of law in the West Bank territories,” the report said.
“If it were not enough that the law is not being enforced, the lawbreakers also receive a tailwind by the state, which not only fails to take action to remove the illegal construction but also seeks in some cases to legalize it,” said the report.
The Civil Administration, which is in charge of enforcing building regulations in the West Bank, was not available to respond to the report.
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said there was no connection between the report and the reality on the ground. He charged that the government, the state attorney’s office and the civil administration rigorously enforce, in a discriminatory fashion towards settlers, the building laws in Judea and Samaria.