State: Reject demolition petition

Asks High Court of Justice to refrain from enforcing Amona demolition.

The state on Sunday called on the High Court of Justice to reject a petition demanding that it enforce demolition orders issued against the buildings in the illegal outpost of Amona, all of which were built on private Palestinian land.
“The state will argue that the petition should be rejected because of the serious change in circumstances that has come about as a result of the building moratorium in Judea and Samaria,” the state’s representative, attorney Hani Ofek, said in a brief to the court. “In view of the experience we have gained since the moratorium went into effect, at this stage all enforcement resources must be applied to enforcing the moratorium and preventing any building starts.”
As a result, the demolition of buildings erected on Palestinian land “is not high in the state’s order of priorities,” Ofek added.
The state admitted in an earlier petition that all of Amona – which is located on a hill overlooking the Ofra settlement – was built without permission on registered Palestinian land. “The lands upon which Amona was established are registered and privately owned,” the state said in the earlier petition calling for the demolition of nine permanent houses built in the outpost.
Settlers say they bought some of the land from its Palestinian owners, but they have failed to provide proof and the land is still registered in the names of the Palestinians.
The state’s response on Sunday was to a petition filed 18 months ago by Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights in the name of 10 residents of Silwad, Ein Yabrud, Deir Jarir and Taiba, heirs of the villagers in whose name several plots of land are registered.
According to the legal adviser of Yesh Din, Michael Sfard, “Thispetition involves an illegal site which was established withoutpermission and in gross violation of the law. It includes a largenumber of mobile structures, a number of wooden structures, sheds,agricultural storehouses and one stone building. The trespassers on thepetitioners’ land declared that it was a settlement named Amona. It wasbuilt without a permit.”
In its response, the state criticized the Binyamin regional council andAmona, saying that “the occurrence of illegal construction is, byitself, a negative one and all the more so when the construction isconsciously carried out on private Palestinian land.”
Nevertheless, the state said the petition should be rejected.
“Any far-fetched excuse, be it as baseless, ridiculous and illogical asit may, is a good enough excuse for the Israeli government to permitcriminal robbery of Palestinian land,” Sfard said in response to thestate’s brief. “The argument that because of the moratorium the statecannot enforce the law on the Amona settlers is an insult to one’sintelligence.”