Court slams state for lack of info on 6 outposts

High Court hammers state for inability to answer basic questions on status of W. Bank outposts.

Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Children protest Givat Assaf evacuation order 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The High Court of Justice hammered the state on Sunday for its inability to answer basic questions about the status of six West Bank outposts designated for evacuation.
On June 22, the state had asked for a seven-month delay for evacuating various outposts, including Givat Assaf.
Prior to June 22, the state had previously promised the court that by July 1 it would take down Givat Assaf’s 25 caravans, which are perched on a small hill next to Route 60 and close to the Beit El settlement.
On Sunday, the state maintained that it should have more time to address the issue of evacuation because it had not sorted out the details regarding which parts of the outposts may have been newly purchased by Jewish settlers.
The court demanded to know what percentage of the outposts had been newly purchased and the names of the purchasers, among other basic information.
When the state was unable even to answer these questions, the court lectured the state repeatedly about how the hearing could not continue without any concrete information.
The state retorted that even though it had admitted that the land in question was private Palestinian land, it should have more time to respond, both to address the property rights issues which invariably take time to verify and complete, and because the case at stake is of high public interest.
Peace Now attorney Michael Sfard added to the court’s criticism that the state was not prepared.
He also stated that since the state was getting more time to respond, when it does so, it should account for new building being carried out at the outposts in violation of the directive to evacuate the outposts.
The state found itself repeatedly apologizing for its lack of readiness, although the state attorney did mention that part of the issue was a result of the late receipt of information from other sources.
Despite the hearing being cut short, over 20 involved activists and lawyers were in attendance as well as a major from the office of the Judea and Samaria legal adviser to assist and provide information to the parties.
Up until the last second before the judges entered the room, the sides were frantically huddling and exchanging information in different parts of the court room.
The court ordered the state and all settler parties to produce their information between mid-October and November 1, after which Peace Now will respond on November 15 and the court will decide how to move forward with the case.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.