'Outposts should not be razed at the demand of petitioners'

State tells court High Court destroying outposts has diplomatic implications, should not be done haphazardly just because of opposition.

West Bank outpost 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
West Bank outpost 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Destroying outposts has diplomatic implications and should not be done haphazardly just because there is a legal petition demanding its destruction, the state told the High Court of Justice Tuesday.
It therefore asked the court to delay the demolition of six unauthorized outposts, even though Peace Now first asked the court to force the state to move against them six years ago.
All six outposts – Ma’aleh Rehavam, Givat Assaf, Ha’roeh, Ramat Gilad, Mitzpe Lachish and Mitzpe Yitzhar – were built after March 2001.
Israel had promised the US as early as 2002 that it would remove all outposts built after that March date. But earlier this year some of its officials and ministers said that pledge had been superseded in the wake of the wider dispute on settlement growth and as such there was no intention to move on it at this time. At the time, they added that legal considerations and not diplomatic ones should determine the outpost’s fate.
In repeated court cases on the matter, the state has said that removing outposts is not a priority at this time.
On Tuesday, in a document it submitted to the court prior to a hearing on the matter the state said that “the subject of building in Judea and Samaria in all its forms has become a core issue in the political dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with its diplomatic contacts with the US and other countries.
“As a result, the government’s policy with respect to actions that change the existing situation on the ground, has to be weighed against wider national interests,” said the state.
It added that there was no justification for “diverting the spotlight” to places set by the petitioners and not the state.
Peace Now said in response that for seven years settlers in these outposts have enjoyed immunity as breaking the law has become an acceptable fact. It added that the state has continually found one excuse after the other to avoid imposing the law.
Settlers in turn have said that these are communities which the state failed to legalize for political considerations that have no bearing on the law.
According to Peace Now’s attorney, Michael Sfard, the court has given the state 15 days to further explain its response.