State Attorney Slams Building of Settlement School as Illegal

Mateh Binyamin building permit was issued without consent of Civil Administration planning officials.

A building permit issued for a school in the settlement of Talmon was issued without consultation with the Civil Administration or the Palestinians living nearby, according to a State Attorney's Office document. As a result of the issuance of a building permit, the State Attorney's Office asked the Civil Administration to investigate the matter.

Late last week the State Attorney's Office informed the Supreme Court that the Mateh Binyamin local council's planing and building committee acted "fraudulently" in issuing a building permit for a school in the Ramallah-area settlement two months ago.

The written statement notes that the building permit was issued without the planning officials of the Civil Administration being made aware of it, without hearing any opposition, and without a valid decision.

The State Attorney's Office also promised the court that the relevant authorities at the Civil Administration will examine the issue, and that they will provide the court with their findings in the near future.

The issue broke last April, when the Civil Administration issued an announcement that it had prepared a detailed plan for altering the status of the outpost of Givat Habreikha, near Talmon, from an agricultural area to a residential neighborhood with 300 housing units.

In response, the group Bimkom expressed its opposition to the change, on behalf of the head of the local council of the nearby village of Al-Janiah and three villagers who own the land near the area in question.

During hearings on the opposition, Bimkom discovered that Civil Administration planning officials had earlier approved the construction of a school covering 33 dunams. Moreover, the news of the plan for a building a school was published only in two Hebrew language newspapers and in the Arab-language weekly Kul al-Arab, which is published in Nazareth and has limited circulation in the West Bank.

According to Jordanian planning laws, the plans need to be published in two local newspapers. In addition, an announcement on the plan was not posted on the home of the village chief.

In October 2009, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger issued an order forbidding any construction on the area planned for the school. Nonetheless, a building license was issued by the local authority, and work has been done to lay the groundwork for construction.

According to the State attorney, the settlers hid information from the state and the court which followed specific requests from information on the issue of the building plans.

Dana Zimmerman of the left-wing human rights group Yesh Din said that the group will file a petition for expanding the order so that substantive enforcement will be applied by the authorities.