High Court Orders Demolition of 5 Structures in Beit El Settlement

As with the settlement’s Ulpana neighborhood, the court is preventing construction on private Palestinian land.

Defense Ministry

The High Court of Justice has ordered the demolition of uninhabited structures on private Palestinian land built by the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

The construction includes two buildings in progress and infrastructure for three more buildings on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Dura al-Qara. On Monday, the court’s president, Asher Grunis, gave the Beit El council six months to demolish the structures.

“The court once again made clear the importance of preserving the property rights of residents of occupied territory,” said attorney Shlomi Zacharia of the Yesh Din rights group.

Zacharia, who represented the plaintiffs, said Israel’s political leaders and legal authorities needed to examine their policy of not enforcing the law, as he put it.

The original petition was filed in 2010. The state and the Beit El council admitted early on that the construction was illegal, so demolition orders were issued and the authorities agreed to remove the structures by 2012.

But the state later requested a planning process that would permit the construction. This occurred after the demolition of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, which the court had also ruled had been built on private Palestinian land.

Grunis noted that the state had promoted a special section of Beit El for Ulpana residents to move to. But in the current case the state had not explained why it had changed its policy, and after three years it had not submitted a new plan. Grunis thus said he found no reason to let the planning process continue.

In a minority opinion, Deputy Supreme Court President Miriam Naor recommended that the planning process run its course before a demolition order was issued — as long as this process lasted no more than another year.

The court also rejected a petition by a Palestinian, Abed al-Rahman Qassam, whose land had been taken over for security purposes.