High Court: Givat Ze’ev synagogue must be razed in the next week

Judges bring an end to a seven-year legal battle.

The West Bank Settlement of Givat Ze'ev (photo credit: REUTERS)
The West Bank Settlement of Givat Ze'ev
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The High Court of Justice on Monday night ordered the demolition of a Givat Ze’ev synagogue within a week, as it rejected one last appeal to save the structure where members of the West Bank settlement have prayed for over two decades.
The ruling ends a seven-year legal battle before the High Court by the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue. 
The non-governmental group Yesh Din had initially petitioned the court against the synagogue after it was discovered that documents relating to the purchase of its property from Palestinian land owners were forged.
Its legal battle ended in 2014, with a court decision to raze the synagogue, which is located on property owned by Amana, the construction arm of the settlement movement.
For the last year, the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue has unsuccessfully appealed the ruling.
Already in August, on orders from the court, synagogue members evacuated their possessions from the building, including Torah scrolls.
At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened and asked the High Court to stave off the demolition until October 13. 
The court ceded to his request. In in the interim, the rabbi of Givat Ze’ev, Yosef Toledano, appealed to the High Court to reconsider its ruling.
In his petition to the court, Toledano argued that the synagogue was protected by international law and could not legally be demolished.
The three justices that ruled on the case, Miriam Naor, Hanan Meltzer and Uzi Fogelman, rejected his argument on Monday.
In a 12-page ruling, they explained that the international law was not applicable to this situation, as the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue was built on “occupied territory” and on private Palestinian property without the permission of the land owners.
It also argued that synagogue members had violated the court order to evacuate the building and had used the structure in September.
Located just outside of Jerusalem, Givat Ze’ev has a population of almost 15,000 and is the fifth-largest West Bank settlement.