Israel Ignoring Construction of Two Unauthorized West Bank Roads, Including One on Palestinian Land

State says the two new roads have never been challenged in court, so there is no reason they cannot be built.

Nir Kafri

The government is ignoring the construction of two new roads in the West Bank, one of them over private Palestinian land, which are meant to replace two other roads the Supreme Court ordered demolished. The state says the two new roads have never been challenged in court, so there is no reason they cannot be built.

This week, the Supreme Court held a hearing on the road leading to the unauthorized outpost of Mitzpe Danny, as part of two different cases. The Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights organization appealed to the court asking to demolish the road, which passes over privately owned Palestinian land, as well as a house in the outpost. In the second case, two private Palestinian petitioners have asked to demolish seven homes in the outpost.

In response, the state says that the road was in fact built on private Palestinian land, but will be demolished by February 1, 2016. Attorney Shlomi Zachary, representing Yesh Din, told the court that instead of the existing road, a new road is being built and it also makes use of privately owned land.

The government’s response admitted to this fact, but said the new road is not part of the present case. Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein accepted the state’s claim and ruled that the issue of the new road was not part of the case, but it would be better to find an interim solution that would not use private land, “and in any case it was a clear justification for speeding up the planning, and the respondents should consider this,” wrote Rubinstein.

The other road is being built to connect the outpost of Haroeh near Eli with the nearby settlement of Ma’ale Levona. Here the land is of undetermined ownership, having the status of “survey land,” for which no in-depth examination of the ownership has been conducted. This new road is meant to replace an existing one that the High Court of Justice ordered demolished because it too is partly on privately owned land. The court ordered this carried out by December 7.

In its ruling almost a year ago, the court gave the government a year in order to build an alternative – but the state has done nothing to find a solution and the new road is being constructed without proper permits and planning.

The IDF’s Civil Administration in the West Bank will not take any action against this new road because the residents “need a road and there is noting that can be done,” an official in the Civil Administration told Haaretz.

The council heads of two nearby Palestinian villages petitioned the High Court Wednesday against the building of the road, and the state is supposed to respond by Friday.

The Civil Administration said the work on the new road was illegal and a stop-work order had been issued against it.