High Court Demolition Ruling Triggers Right-Wing Wrath

YERUSHALAYIM -

A High Court ruling to demolish 17 homes in Gush Etzion has triggered the wrath of right-wing coalition members who accused the court of serving as a tool of the left and undemocratically overriding governmental decisions.

The court said on Thursday that the unauthorized dwellings in the Derech Ha’avot outpost in Gush Etzion must be taken down by March 6, 2018. The order culminates a 13-year legal struggle in which the High Court finally reversed a state decision certifying the homes as legal.

The reaction was swift and furious.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) charged that “extreme leftist bodies, which despaired of persuading the nation of the ‘need’ to establish a Palestinian state in Yehudah and Shomron…are taking advantage of the legal system…to force the policies of a minority on the majority.

“When the Supreme Court [approves something like this], it erodes the public confidence,” he said.

Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) called the ruling “outrageous….It shows the total disconnect of the Court from the common sense and historical and heritage values of the nation of Israel.”

“We have learned again of the urgent need for fundamental reform of the Israeli legal system. I call on the Justice Minister to lead a far-reaching reform in order to restore the trust of the Israeli public in the High Court,” Elkin said.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home): “In the last year and a half, the Defense Ministry and the Justice Ministry have been working to legalize [towns in Yehudah and Shomron] wherever feasible, and the state decided that in Netiv Ha’avot, it was feasible.

“I will use every means necessary, together with the Defense Ministry, in order to advance a ‘first registration’ process, which should allow for the regulation of the homes. The first registration should allow a change of circumstances, and will permit the state to apply for the cancellation of the destruction of the houses,” Shaked said.

Peace Now, which worked with Palestinian petitioners claiming the land as theirs, welcomed the news, while condemning the government for its “attempt to bend the law for the benefit of settlers.”

In the justices’ decision, they wrote: “There is no one who disagrees that all the buildings were built illegally, without any zoning permit for the outpost, and without receiving the necessary permissions…it is the state’s obligation to enforce the zoning and building laws as required.”