The settlement of Nokdim, Daniel Bar-On
The settlement of Nokdim, located in the Judean Hills. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Justices from the Supreme Court took the state to task on Tuesday for failing to execute demolition orders in Jewish outposts in the territories and asked the state for clarifications.

The orders to demolish the outposts are based on a 2004 directive by then-GOC Central Command Moshe Kaplinsky declaring the outposts of Ramat Gilad, Mitzpeh Yitzhar, Givat Haroeh, Givat Assaf, Ma'aleh Rehavam and Mitzpeh Lachish off limits. This authorized soldiers to remove structures and people from the sites.

An appeal by settlers was denied by the High Court of Justice. In 2007, the anti-settlement group Peace Now petitioned the court for an order requiring the state to carry out the demolition orders.

The state's initial response was that it intended to carry them out in accordance with existing priorities; then it said it was negotiating the evacuation of the outposts.

In 2009, the high court issued a show cause order directing the government to provide reasons it would not evacuate the sites. The state responded that its resources were focused on enforcement of the settlement construction freeze in effect at the time.

On Tuesday, the state presented its current position, stating that West Bank construction is a core issue in talks with the Palestinian Authority and in contacts with the United States. Consideration of changes that result in a change in the situation on the ground therefore must take the diplomatic and security situation into account, the court was told.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the stance presented to the court.

At the hearing, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said she had difficulty understanding the state's latest position.

Justice Uzi Vogelman questioned why construction continued after the show cause order. Attorney Uri Keinan, representing the state, said, "We have no position on new construction," adding that he could not state that new structures would be removed.

The justices gave the state 15 days to respond to their request for clarifications and explanations.