Israeli court delays evacuation of 9 West Bank settler homes
High Court delays demolition by one month; Ofra settlers originally asked for a three-month delay in order to prevent the need to relocate twice.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
The High Court of Justice has delayed the demolition of nine homes in the Ofra settlement by one month, until March 5.The court had previously ruled that the homes must be taken down by February 8, because they were built without permits on private Palestinian property.The residents of the nine homes had asked for a delay so that they could move into new homes, which would be ready only within three months.News of the delay came as a homeowner named Shira was in the middle of an interview with Israel Radio.The ruling, she said, did little to help them because the whole idea had been to prevent the need to relocate twice.On Sunday afternoon the Ofra residents plan to hold a rally against the demolitions and to call on the government to authorize the Settlements Bill, which would retroactively legalize 4,000 settler homes on private Palestinian property.The legislation is particularly important for Ofra, which has hundreds of such homes.AdvertisementOn Monday night the Knesset is scheduled to authorize the bill even though Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned that it is unconstitutional and will not withstand any legal challenge to Israel’s High Court of Justice.Retired Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch told Israel Radio on Sunday that the law was problematic because the Knesset did not have the authority to legislate issues relating to property of Area C of the West Bank, which was outside its purview.“We (the Knesset) do not have the constitutional ability to legislate for this area,” she said.Lawmakers are moving forward with the legislation based on the legal opinion of the Knesset’s attorney and with the help of a private attorney.Left-wing lawmakers have argued that passage of the law would push the International Criminal Court to rule on the issue of West Bank settlements, a matter that it is already studying. Right-wing legal experts have argue that the law actually places Israel within compliance of international law, because it compensates the Palestinians for the land loss, as opposed to the current situation in which settlers are using the property without any remuneration to the Palestinians.