Israel's Top Court Postpones Demolition of Illegal West Bank Outpost

The state and the residents of Netiv Ha’avot have agreed for the evacuation to be done peacefully

A settler laying the foundation for a carpentry shop at Netiv Ha'avot in the West Bank, November 2017.
Emil Salman

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state a three-month extension to evacuate 15 homes built illegally on private Palestinian land in the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot.

The homes were due be evacuated next week, but the state said it needed more time to prepare temporary homes for the residents, so the demolitions must now be done by June 15.

High Court President Esther Hayut chastised the state for not taking advantage of the year and a half it had to find alternative dwellings for the Netiv Ha’avot families but said a short extension was warranted. She noted the state’s claim that it had agreed with the settlers on a peaceful evacuation.

"One cannot ignore that this alternative is already at a relatively advanced stage,” Hayut wrote; work on the ground for the temporary homes had already begun. Still, she added, “this extension is the last one; after it the respondents will have to carry out the ruling.”

Of the 15 houses, nine had been due to be demolished entirely and six in part if possible – just the sections built on Palestinian land. But the court Wednesday rejected the state’s request that the last six be demolished only in part; it said it was not clear that this solution would allow the remaining sections to be legalized in the future.

On Wednesday, the Netiv Ha’avot settlers acknowledged that the court had acceded to the state’s request but vowed to continue fighting until they had permanent housing in the neighborhood.

On Sunday the cabinet allocated 60 million shekels ($17 million) for the evacuation, even though the court had found that all the buildings were illegal, having been built without permits on land that did not belong to the settlers or the state.

The 60 million shekels includes compensation to the residents, hotel housing until the temporary houses are built, the construction of those houses, and compensation to the regional council.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he welcomed the court’s ruling, which accepted the state’s position.