Israel Government Petitions High Court to Postpone Evacuation of West Bank Outpost

The court decision, reached roughly a year ago, requires government to execute the evacuation order of five buildings in Ulpana in the Beit El settlement by Tuesday, May 1.

The Israeli government on Friday petitioned the High Court of Justice to reverse its decision to postpone the evacuation, and dismantling, of five structures that were built on Palestinian land in the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement, originally due to take place on May 1.

With instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as ministers on the panel for settlement issues, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Benny Begin, the State Attorney requested that the court "reconsider" its decision to evacuate the buildings, partly on the basis that the evacuation is likely to have difficult ramifications for Beit El residents.

Emil Salman

The petition states that according to checks by the Civil Administration, parts of the Beit El settlement were built illegally, mostly on private Palestinian land, with construction dating back to the 1980s. As such, the appeal states, the evacuation of the buildings could carry social, political and operational ramifications for construction in Beit El and other settlements.

Following the clarification of the situation, the text of the appeal says, and after taking into consideration the “broad, adverse social implications” that the implementation of the decision could have on building in other areas, “it has been decided to rethink priorities on law enforcement in the area.”

The state wrote that it is important to rethink the policy on the dismantling and evacuation of such structures. Dealing with property built on private lands will continue to be high priority in the area, the state wrote, but the state “can no longer determine the priority of enforcement [of such policies] in Judea and Samaria without seeing the big picture.” There is a need to rethink priorities “within the category of construction of private land,” the text of the appeal said.

The request differs from previous cases, in which requests were made to postpone court decisions. This request is meant to allow for the government to propose an alternative solution for the issue of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood - a solution that would not be in line with the court's previous decision.

The ruling to evacuate the buildings by Tuesday, May 1, was reached in agreement with the position then held by the government. Nevertheless, because of the far-reaching political ramifications of the evacuation order, the government reversed its position on the issue.

According to legal experts, the government's request represents a problematic move - breaking the accepted rules for the relationship between the executive and judicial branches - that will put the country in a difficult position.

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