High Court demands explanation of failure to enforce planning laws

The High Court of Justice has issued a "show cause" ordering government officials to explain their failure to enforce the planning laws in the Jewish neighborhood of Matityahu East, including their alleged failure to issue stop work orders and demolition orders against the illegal construction and their failure to prosecute those allegedly responsible for it. The decision came in response to a petition filed in January by the Peace Now movement, represented by Attorney Michael Sfard. The order was issued against Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, the head of Central Command, O/C Yair Naveh, the head of the Civil Administration, Brig.-Gen. Camil Abu-Rukun, the Supreme Planning Committee of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, the chief of police in the Judea and Samaria District, Cmdr. Yisrael Yitzhak and the Modi'in Illit local council. Three thousand housing units were planned for Matityahu East in accordance with Planning Scheme 201/8/1, which was never formally approved and has now been scrapped. Of these, 750 have already been completed or were in the midst of construction until the court issued an interim injunction on January 12, temporarily halting all construction and preventing any more homeowners from moving in to the project. An earlier plan, Planning Scheme 201/8/1, which is still in effect today, called for construction of 1,500 units in the same geographical area. But all of the building permits that have been issued so far were issued on the basis of the plan that was not in effect or built in accordance with it. Last week, the court heard arguments by the construction companies, Green Park Inc., Green Mount Inc., Ein Ami , and Hefzibah and the Committee of Residents in the Hefzibah project in favor of at least partially lifting the January 12 interim injunction so that families could move in to the finished apartments. The state's representative, Attorney Orit Koren, did not object to their request. But the court decided to leave the original interim injunction intact, and gave the respondents 30 days to present their arguments in response to the show-cause order.