Court: Don't evict Matityahu East trespassers

Purchasers of Heftsiba homes who broke into their apartments may remain despite an interim injunction barring them from moving in.

Heftsiba 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Heftsiba 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice decided this week that the purchasers of homes in the Heftsiba Construction project in East Matityahu who broke into their apartments after hearing of the company's collapse may remain despite an interim injunction barring them from moving in. The court issued the interim injunction on January 6, 2006, in response to a petition by the Peace Now movement and residents of the neighboring Palestinian village of Bili'in, who charged that the construction companies were building residential housing with illegal permits. They charged that the Modi'in local council had issued the permits on the basis of a zoning plan that had not yet been approved. Under the court order, the companies, one of which was Heftsiba, were forced to stop construction and could not hand over ownership deeds to purchasers for finished apartments. Anyone who had not yet moved into his apartment was barred from doing so. Matters became complicated when the news that Heftsiba faced bankruptcy began to circulate on August 5. Purchasers of Heftsiba apartments all over Israel began to move into them in an attempt to guarantee their rights and protect their investment. Matityahu East purchasers did the same, even though their legal situation was unique because of the interim injunction. The situation became even more complex when a Jerusalem District Court judge ruled that even though the move into the Heftsiba apartments was illegal, the purchasers should be allowed to stay for the time being. The judge, David Cheshin, did not distinguish between the Matityahu East purchasers and the others. Meanwhile, the state came under severe pressure from the petitioners to remove the Matityahu East "trespassers." On August 14, the state asked the High Court whether it should remove the families who had moved in in violation of the interim injunction or let them stay in accordance with the original district court decision (which was later changed to exclude Matityahu East.) The court ruled that "the interim injunction prohibiting the occupation of the apartments that was handed down will remain in force. At the same time, at this point and for as long as it takes to clarify all of the facts regarding Heftsiba's situation and the chances of the occupants to gain ownership of the apartments they bought, or, alternatively, the money they paid, the situation as it currently is will not be changed. "This means that no action will be taken to evacuate the residents who broke into the Heftsiba apartments since August 1. As the procedures progress in the matter of Heftsiba and the status of the creditors, including the purchasers, becomes clearer, the state may come back to the court, if necessary, regarding the question of enforcing the interim injunction." The court has heard all the hearings it intends to on the petition and has received the summary arguments of all the sides to the dispute. All that is left is for it to hand down its final ruling.