Israeli Attorney General Seeks to Save Buildings in West Bank Outpost From Demolition

Israeli attorney general considering allowing a partial rather than complete demolition of six homes, built in part on private Palestinian land

Netiv Ha’avot, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

As a March demolition deadline approaches against 15 buildings in Netiv Ha’avot, an outpost of the West Bank settlement of Elazar, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is considering the issue of building permits that would spare portions of six of the buildings.

Nine of the structures subject to the demolition order issued by the High Court of Justice were built on privately owned Palestinian land, but six are mostly on state-owned land. The portions of these buildings that are on Palestinian land would still have to be demolished.

The houses earmarked for demolition in Netiv Ha'avot

Residents of Netiv Ha’avot had asked the High Court to waive the demolition orders entirely for the six buildings. The court refused, saying it deemed them illegal construction. In issuing the order, however, then-Supreme Court President Justice Miriam Naor, left open the possibility that temporary construction permits could be issued that would spare the portions of the six structures that are on state land. It is that prospect that Mendelblit is now considering in consultation with other relevant government officials.

A decision on the matter is expected shortly, Justice Ministry sources said. News that Mendelblit was considering having permits issued was first reported by Army Radio. Ministry officials have confirmed to Haaretz that the radio report is correct.

The demolition orders are the result of a High Court ruling in September 2016 granting a petition filed by Peace Now and several Palestinian organizations seeking the demolition of 17 structures including a memorial to Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon and a carpentry workshop. The memorial has been demolished and the carpentry shop is expected to be razed shortly. It is the remaining structures, including large stone homes, that are subject to the demolition order, but six are only partially on Palestinian-owned land.

Although no final decision has yet been made by the attorney general, the group representing residents of Netiv Ha’avot said it “welcomed” what it claimed was Mendelblit’s decision to allow a partial rather than complete demolition of six homes. In any event, the group called such a prospect “a drop in the ocean,” adding: “The government’s task is to advance hearings on appeals and to [legalize] the entire neighborhood.”