Justice Ministry told army to evict Beit Hashalom settlers in 30 days

"A significant deviation from this would require very grave circumstances or reasons," writes ministry official.

Mazuz Friedmann 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Mazuz Friedmann 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
According to an internal and confidential opinion submitted last week by the Justice Ministry to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the army must evict the settlers occupying the disputed building within 30 days of the eviction order unless they have a good reason not to, a ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "Thirty days is a reasonable amount of time," the head of the High Court Petitions Section of the Justice Ministry, Osnat Mandel, wrote to Barak in the opinion. "A significant deviation [from this time limit] would require very grave circumstances or reasons." The Justice Ministry refused to hand over to the Post the full text of the opinion and agreed to quote the above sentence only. As a result, it isn't clear whether Mandel specified what circumstances or reasons could justify postponing the eviction beyond the 30 days. However, it's unlikely that she did. The most obvious reason for postponing the eviction of the building's occupants would be that such a move would seriously endanger public safety. The security forces have often used this reasoning to oppose actions which in other circumstances would be permissible. For example, the police invariably opposed the marches of the right-wing Temple Mount Faithful for fear it would lead to Palestinian rioting. In these cases, when the organization petitioned against the police position, the court almost always backed it. Recently, police opposed a request by right-wing extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to hold a march in Umm el-Fahm on the grounds that it could lead to violent disturbances. In this case, the court rejected the police position and ordered it to find a way to permit the march within the Umm el-Fahm city limits. Should the state decide not to carry out the eviction within the 30 days set down by Mandel, the decision would almost certainly elicit petitions to the High Court of Justice. The court would then be forced to decide whether or not to order it to do so. However, Barak is reportedly determined to carry out the eviction without prompting from anyone. He apparently regards the disputed building as an acid test of the rule of law in Israeli society. Furthermore, it was what the state wanted in the first place. After all, the recent High Court rejection of a petition by settlers against the Civil Administration's eviction order removed an obstacle keeping the government and the army from doing what they said they wanted to do in the first place. When they issued the eviction order, they knew it could lead to a violent showdown.