Israel's Top Court Takes State to Task Over Paving of Illegal Road in West Bank

The state agreed to stop paving a road it admitted was being built on Palestinian land, but it was completed nevertheless and a new building was constructed adjacent to it

The entrance to the settlement of Adam in July 2018.
Emil Salman

The High Court of Justice ordered the state on Monday to explain within 60 days why it should not demolish a road and buildings that were constructed illegally on private land near the West Bank settlement of Adam. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut took the state for its handling of the case after the state had consented to have work on the site stopped only to then inform the court in July that the work had been completed.

At a hearing on Monday, Roi Shweka, from the State Prosecutor's Office, said the road in question was a dirt road and the state had not involved in its construction. The court said the 60-day order would be the state's last chance to head off a demolition order for what had been built at the site.

The case is before the court on a petition by Palestinians who claim that a 200-meter (650-foot) stretch of road was built on their land. None of the Palestinian petitioners has proven their claim to ownership of the land, although the state confirmed that it was not owned by the state or by settlers.

In August 2017, with the state’s consent, the High Court ordered the work stopped, but in July, the state informed the court that the work had been completed and another structure built on the land as well. At Monday’s hearing, Court President Esther Hayut asked Shweka how the state could relate with "equanimity" to the violation of a court order issued with the state's consent. “The main difficulty is the conduct over the past year in the area, which was uninterrupted and unsupervised. It is clear that this was done in breach of the [court] order.”

Alaa Mahajna, the petitioners’ lawyer, told Haaretz that the state had sought to have the petition rejected on the grounds that his clients had not proven their ownership of the land, but the court had rejected the argument, saying that the state had acknowledged that it assumed it was privately owned.