Court ignores ideological aspect of illegal Beduin construction

Court ignores ideologica

The High Court of Justice on Monday decided to focus on the immediate and practical problem posed by the location of a Beduin school and nine Beduin homes east of the capital, all built without permits on the route of a new road planned for the area. In doing so, the court postponed discussion of another, "ideological" petition filed by the settlements and the Regavim organization, represented by The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, calling on the state to issue demolition orders immediately and tear down 257 structures, including the school, a mosque and hundreds of homes, built by the Jahalin tribe in the area. Regavim has launched a campaign in the High Court to force the government to implement demolition orders, or to issue them where they have not yet been issued - against illegal Palestinian construction in the West Bank. The campaign is in response to petitions filed by left-wing organizations such as Yesh Din and Peace Now against illegal construction by Jews in the settlements and illegal outposts. Shmuel Klein, the spokesman for The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, told The Jerusalem Post he was disappointed that the court had not given more attention to his organization's petition. The court dealt with two petitions, one by The Legal Forum and the other by attorney Shlomo Lecker, on behalf of the Beduin, against the demolition of the school and the homes. So far, demolition orders have been issued only against the school, which is built largely from mud bricks. In his original petition, Lecker argued that the Beduin had not asked for building permits because their requests to the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria had been consistently rejected. After learning that the homes and school had been built on the path of the road, he argued that they should be removed and rebuilt close by. The state's attorney, Gilad Sherman, rejected Lecker's request, arguing that the state could not be complicit in a solution whereby illegally built houses were rebuilt even though they remained illegal. Attorney Nir Braunstein, representing the National Roads Company, which is building the road, asked the court to lift an interim injunction temporarily prohibiting the Civil Administration from demolishing the school. At the same time, the company has called on the Civil Administration to issue demolition orders against the homes as well. For the time being, the panel of three justices headed by Esther Hayut is trying to get the sides to sit down together and find a solution to the immediate problem of the road. According to one proposal, the children studying in the illegal school would be sent to a school located in the Jahalin neighborhood in Eizariya (Bethany), about 10 km. away. The court gave Shirman 45 days to report back on the outcome of the negotiations. But Braunstein warned that the National Roads Company had reached the end of a long planning process and was about to choose a contractor to build the road. "Every day that passes costs a great deal of money to the company and the taxpayer," he said.