The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction requiring the state to explain why it has not followed through with evacuating every illegal outpost built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.
The court made its ruling particularly with regard to the Amona outpost, where settlers began to build in 1995 and have continued to do so despite an official evacuation as recently as 2006.
Settlers placed their first caravans in Amona in 1995, and received demolition orders for these structures in 1997, 2003 and 2004. Security forces in 1996 razed nine structures that had been built there, facing strong opposition from the settler movement.
A group of eight Palestinians from neighboring villages, via the human rights organization Yesh Din, petitioned the High Court of Justice in 2008 to evacuate the illegal outpost Amona. Petitioners have also asked for the removal of fences that prevent access to their lands.
The court accepted their petition on the grounds that any construction on private land was subject to demolition. The debate on Wednesday was held at the request of the Palestinians, demanding that the court enforce the decision as the state has apparently put that demolition last on its agenda, turning its resources toward dealing with disruptions to the construction freeze throughout the area.
Defense attorney Michael Sfard told the court during a hearing held on Wednesday that settlers began in April to build anew in Amona, without any interference from the state despite the inherent illegality or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declaration of a 10-month construction freeze.
"It's obvious that the state and the settlers will do everything they can to stop this, but it is our duty to help those landowners whose property has been stolen to achieve justice," said Sfard.
Sfard noted that during the four years since the demolition of nine structures at the outpost (which took place only after a previous petition by Yesh Din), Amona settlers have built new buildings to replace them.
In the statement to the High Court last month, the State Prosecutor's Office confirmed Amona is an illegal outpost.
It stressed that the defense minister, the Civil Administration and the police take a grave view of the improper conduct of the Mateh Binyamin local council (which receives its budget from the state!), "and most certainly when it comes to construction on private lands belonging to Palestinians".
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now