'State discriminating against Jews'

Attorney against illegal Palestinian construction makes charges in response to High Court ruling.

construction tekoa 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
construction tekoa 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

A lawyer for Regavim, an organization fighting illegal constructionby Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, chargedon Wednesday that the state and the High Court of Justice are violatingbasic civil rights and discriminating against Jews by refusing todemolish illegally built Palestinian housing, including near Mizratel-Kabilya, in the Ramallah District.

The lawyer, Doron Nir-Tzvi, was responding to a High Courtdecision handed down last week rejecting his demand that the stateprovide a concrete timetable for destroying the Palestinian buildingsnear Mizrat el-Kabilya, against which the Civil Administration of Judeaand Samaria had issued demolition orders.

The court accepted the state's response, including an argumentto the effect that the army was devoting all its energies to enforcingthe government-ordered building freeze in the Jewish settlements andoutposts in the West Bank and that the illegal Palestinian building wasa low priority matter.

The High Court heard a petition in 2006 which had demanded thatthe Civil Administration enforce the demolition order and had rejectedit on the grounds that the state had the right to determine its owntimetable for enforcing demolition orders according to its own set ofpriorities.

However, on July 12, 2009, in an interim decision regarding aPeace Now petition, the court had rejected the state's argument that ithad the right to enforce the orders according to its own priorities.The petition called on the state to enforce demolition orders it hadserved against illegal construction by Jewish settlers in the illegaloutposts of Hayovel and Hersha. It ordered the state to inform thecourt exactly when it intended to demolish the buildings and to beginholding hearings for those affected by the decision.

In response, Regavim filed a new petition demanding that thestate also set a date for demolishing the illegal Palestinian buildingsin Mizrat el-Kabilya. It said the interim decision regarding the PeaceNow petition established new case law, and therefore the court shouldreconsider its earlier decision to allow the state to set its own datewith regard to the illegal Palestinian buildings.

Last week, the High Court accepted the state's position andrejected the petition. "The state stressed that of late there has beena substantial change regarding the matter of enforcing the planning andbuilding laws and this is because of the [housing-start freeze] and thehigh priority given to the enforcement of this decision. This obligesthe state to focus its resources on enforcing it."

According to Regavim, "the state prosecution has officiallyadmitted that enforcing the building freeze against the settlersobliges it to ignore illegal Palestinian construction."

The state, in its response to the petition, added that whilethe demolition of the buildings in Mizrat el-Kabilya was of lowpriority, the army gave high priority to demolishing illegalPalestinian construction which posed a threat to security. The statesaid it had destroyed six illegal Palestinian structures in the pastfew weeks and intended to destroy 20 more by the end of January.