High Court refuses to halt illegal settlement construction

Justice Hendel to wait until a full hearing on the petition, even as 12 homes go up at contested site in Talmon.

Justice Neal Hendel has found an original way to prevent contempt of court actions on the part of petitioners who protest to the High Court of Justice when its rulings are ignored by the state or other respondents.
The solution, it appears, is not to issue a ruling in the first place.
The case in question is a petition to the High Court of Justice by Abbas Yusef, head of the village council of Al-Jania, three other villagers and the human rights organizations Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights and Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights.
The petition was originally filed on December 29, 2009 against the minister of defense, Jewish planning bodies in the West Bank, the Talmon settlement committee and others against an outline planning scheme to retroactively incorporate into Talmon an illegal outpost established outside the settlement’s boundaries on land designated as farmland.
The outpost includes 62 permanent homes built long before the outline plan was prepared.
The petition was filed during the phase in the planning process in which the outline plan was open to inspection by the public. Since then, the plan has received final approval.
However, in calling on the High Court to nullify the plan for reasons explained in the petition, the petitioners also asked for an interim injunction to halt all illegal construction currently taking place on the site.
Later, they specified that there were at least 12 new housing units under construction without permits.
In its response, the State Attorney’s representative told the court it was against issuing an interim injunction against the state. However, it said it had no objection to an interim injunction against the settlers, ordering them to halt any illegal construction.
On January 11, the state wrote, “We are not opposed to the issuing of an interim injunction against [the settlers] to refrain from all construction by themselves or through others regarding the buildings under discussion in this injunction and to refrain from making any transactions regarding the buildings, or to occupy them…”
Two days later, Hendel rejected the petitioners’ request for an interim injunction.
After learning more details about the illegal construction on the site, the petitioners renewed their request for an interim injunction. Once again, Hendel refused.
On March 10, the petitioners again asked for an interim injunction after learning that the court would only hear the main petition, asking to nullify the outline plan altogether, next November, eight months from now.
Last Thursday, Hendel ruled that there had been no change in the circumstances justifying the issuing of an interim injunction and again rejected the petitioners’ request.
In the meantime, Yusef, the Al-Jania village council head, has also filed a contempt of court petition against the state, the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, the special planning and building committee for the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council and the Talmon settlement committee for violating an interim injunction that was issued by the High Court on October 14, 2009.
This case involves a school within the boundaries of the outline planning scheme contested by Yusef and others in the petition mentioned above.
Even before the outline planning scheme for the entire area of the outpost was approved, the Mateh Binyamin planning authorities approved a detailed outline plan to build a school within the larger site.
When Yusef, represented by attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zecharya, learned of this plan, he petitioned the High Court to cancel it. He also asked for an interim injunction against the state and the settlers to prevent any work from being done on the construction of the school.
Justice Yoram Danziger issued an interim injunction against the settlers.
On March 4, the state informed the court that the special planning and building committee for the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council had issued a building permit for the school in July 2009 without informing the planning authorities in the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria. This information was also concealed from the State Attorney’s Office and the High Court.
On March 1, Yesh Din researcher Dror Etkes discovered that the settlerswere carrying out earthworks to prepare the site for constructiondespite Danziger’s interim injunction. Yesh Din wrote that it assumedthe site was being prepared for the school.
On these grounds,Yusef filed a contempt of court petition against all the respondentsand a request to extend the interim injunction to include the state.
Justice Uzi Fogelman gave the state one week to respond to the petition.