Court asks state for clarifications on settlement freeze

Court asks state for cla

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state 30 days to let it know when a compensation claims court included in the military order freezing settlement construction would be established and begin work, but did not issue an interim injunction suspending the moratorium in the meantime. The court's decision followed a hearing on December 16 on four petitions protesting the construction freeze ordered on November 26 by Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi, head of IDF Central Command. At the behest of the security cabinet, Mizrahi ordered a sweeping halt on all construction in the settlements unless the foundations of the project had been completed before the order went into effect. The order authorized the head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria to hear requests by settlers to lift the freeze according to specific criteria and called for the establishment of a three-person committee to hear appeals against the decisions of the civil administration head or requests for compensation for damages suffered as a result of the freeze. During the December 16 hearing on the petitioners' requests for an interim injunction and a show-cause order, the justices expressed concern that the provisions on behalf of the settlers were too vague. Justice Ayala Procaccia complained that the military order did not clarify what grounds were acceptable for claiming damages, according to what criteria damages would be awarded, how long the procedure was to take and other related issues. In the decision handed down Wednesday, the court ordered the state to clarify these matters. The panel of three justices, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, demanded to know when the compensation claims committee would be established and when it would start working, what the grounds would be for applying to it, how applications would be filed, what the hearing procedures would be and what body the settlers could turn to if they were dissatisfied with the committee's decisions. The petitioners had hoped for more. Attorney Mordechai Mintzer, who is representing four individual settlers and a building contractor, warned that the court's decision guaranteed that the hearing on the petitions would take too much time. "The court came to understand that the military order violates the basic laws and that the procedure for compensation is inappropriate and insufficient," said Mintzer. "Nevertheless, one month after the order went into effect, the court gave the state another month to respond. After that, it will likely give the petitioners time to reply and maybe after that it will take the court another month to hand down its decision." Mintzer also said he was "greatly disappointed" that the court had rejected his "minimal request" for an interim injunction until the compensation claims committee was established.