Israel's Top Court Rejects Settlers' Claim, Orders Outpost Built on Palestinian Land Demolished

Settlers blast Netanyahu, say 'shocked by helplessness of politicians' after court rules all of West Bank outpost Netiv Ha'avot's structures must be torn down

Yotam Berger
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Members of Knesset visiting the outpost of Netiv Ha'avot, a neighborhood in the Gush Etzion settlement of Elazar, July 23, 2017.
Members of Knesset visiting Netiv Ha'avot, in July. So far 15 of a total of 17 structures there have already been razed.
Yotam Berger

The High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday that all the homes in the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot in Gush Etzion that were built on private Palestinian land must be demolished. The court thus rejected a request by the settlers to demolish only the parts of six homes that were built on Palestinian land – a request backed by the state.

Outgoing Supreme Court President Miriam Naor wrote in the ruling that she was not belittling “the difficulties of the petitioners in being uprooted from their homes.” She noted, however, that “this was given proper expression in the ruling that delayed implementing the [original] demolition orders for a lengthy period for the purpose of finding proper alternative housing.”

In September 2016 the High Court ordered the demolition of all 17 structures in the Netiv Ha’avot, a neighborhood in the settlement of Elazar, south of Jerusalem, which were built wholly or partially on Palestinian-owned land. Two of the structures, including a monument to Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed in Lebanon, have already been razed. The remaining 15 structures are to be torn down by March.

Added Naor: “In contrast to other cases in which the circumstances justified partial demolition and that was specifically stated, in this case it wasn’t said that we could suffice with that. The decision in this case was based on the factual premise that even though we were dealing with ‘divided’ homes, these were cases of ‘all or nothing.’

“Reopening the issue would undermine the principle of the finality of judgment and the principle that judgments must be implemented even if there was insufficient justification,” she wrote.

In response to Naor's judgment, residents of Netiv Ha'avot said: “The High Court of Justice chose once again to ignore the residents, isn’t interested in examining reality on the ground, and despite the absurdity and aggravation, decided again to show that it has the upper hand and that justice is not its guiding light.”

Their statement added that the residents “are shocked by the helplessness of the politicians and their inability to control our precious state. The prime minister has proved his weakness once again.”