Israel’s high court grants reprieve to West Bank outpost ruled “illegal”

Israel’s Supreme Court on April 29 ruled that buildings of the Givat HaUlpana settlement outpost at Beit El on the West Bank, ordered destroyed because of a claim by Palestinian land-owners, would receive a 60-day reprieve. The State Attorney’s Office had filed the appeal on two days before, asking for a three-month delay in the scheduled demolition of the Ulpana outpost. The high court had earlier ordered the evacuation of the five apartment buildings by May 1 because they were built on land found to be private Palestinian property. Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which helped the Palestinian claimants submit the petition against the outpost in 2008, has slammed the government for failing to raze the 30-apartment complex, which is inhabited by settler families. The stay is intended to allow time to find an “alternative solution.”

Jewish Press in its coverage of the case refers to Yesh Din as an “extreme anti-Jewish settlement group.” The Jerusalem Post is somewhat more balanced, but refers to the apartment block as “illegal structures,” without quotation marks. Under international law, all settlement structures on the West Bank are illegal. Approximately 550,000 Israelis now live in what Jewish Press calls “Judea, Samaria, and the eastern part of Jerusalem” (the West Bank including East Jerusalem).

From New Jewish Resistance, April 30

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  1. Bibi sacrifices “illegal” settlement, pledges new “legal” ones
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a decision June 2 to evacuate Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood and not endorse a bill to override the high court on the issue. Netanyahu proposes to relocate the houses to a military zone inside Beit El. He pledged: “What will strengthen the settlement is settlement construction. For each demolished house, we’ll build 10 new ones.” (YNet, June 2)

    1. Bibi approves 850 new settlement units
      The bill to override the high court on the Ulpana settlement was defeated by the Knesset, and to appease the right, Netanyahu and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias immediately approved 851 new housing units—300 for Beit El and 551 for four other settlements. The settlements most likely to get new housing units are Efrat, Gush Etzion and Karnei Shomron. (YNet, June 6)

  2. Bibi to “legalize” 13 “illegal” settlements
    Haaretz now reports that the government has announced plans to “legalize” 13 of the 18 settlement outposts that have been challenged before the High Court of Justice. “Because the 13 outposts are not built on privately-owned Palestinian land, the legalization process could presumably make the petitions against them moot. The remaining five outposts cannot be legalized, because they are located on privately-owned Palestinian land, and so are slated for evacuation.” The first to go will be Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, which the court has ordered dismantled by July 1. Next in line is Migron, an outpost near Ramallah, ordered dismantled by Aug. 1.

  3. “Price tag” attacks over Ulpana
    In evident response to government’s decision to evacuate Ulpana, unknown vandals punctured the tires of 14 parked cars in the Israeli village of Neve Shalom June 8—one of the few villages in the country which has a mixed Jewish and Arab populace. The words “revenge,” “death to Arabs” and “regards from Ulpana” were spray-pained on the vehicles. (YNet, June 8) Neve Shalom (Arabic: Wahat al-Salam) is a village established in the 1960s by Israeli Jews and Arabs who favor co-existence, to promote it by example.

    Days earlier, youth from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar tied up and hit a Palestinian man shot by a member of the settlement’s emergency squad. An IDF inquiry found that Najah al-Safadi, 22, sustained serious gunshot wounds during a clash with settlers near the village of Orif, south of Nablus. The incident took place as some 30 settlers from Yitzhar and local Palestinians clashed on the village’s outskirts. (YNet, June 2)

  4. Israel urged to cease demolition of Palestinian homes
    The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk on June 27 demanded Israel cease its demolition of Palestinian buildings in the West Bank settlements. Falk reported that the demolition of Palestinian structures such as houses, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads have risen by 87 percent from last year. In addition, since the beginning of 2012 a total of 536 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, including hundreds of children. According to Falk, Israelis are illegally expanding their territories near Susiya while the Israeli government does not interfere and the country’s High Court of Justice promotes the demolition. (Jurist, June 28)

  5. Israeli ex-envoy supports settlement boycott
    A proposal in South Africa to ban products from the West Bank received a boost this week from an unlikely source—Israel’s own former Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel. Writing in the South African Business Day newspaper, Liel endorsed the plan to ban “made in Israel” labels for imported products from the West Bank. Liel wrote: “I can understand the desire, by people of conscience, to reassert an agenda of justice, to remind Israelis that Palestinians exist. I can understand small but symbolic acts of protest that hold a mirror up to Israeli society. As such, I cannot condemn the move to prevent goods made in the occupied Palestinian territory from being falsely classified as ‘made in Israel.’ I support the South African government’s insistence on this distinction between Israel and its occupation. (JP, June 28)

  6. Israel to begin recording settler land claims
    Israel plans to start compiling land registry records of assets controlled by West Bank settlers, Haaretz newspaper reveals. The registry would bypass the regular “tabu” land-listing process, denying Palestinians the right to appeal the validity of ownership titles. Haaretz obtained documents indicating the registry will be overseen by the Defense Ministry and the Civil Administration for the West Bank.

    Jewish settlements in the territories were established on lands originally “occupied for military reasons” and subsequently classified as “state lands.” These lands have still not been transferred to settler ownership. Instead, authorities have granted “permission” to the World Zionist Organization or housing companies to make use of the land. These entities are now seeking to hand over title to the settler communities—but under the normal “tabu” registration process (adopted by Israel from the Ottoman legal code), previous owners would have the right to challenge the new titles. To avoid such challenges from Palestinians, deputy attorney general Mike Blass evidently drafted the plan granting title “recorders” power to issue summary titles. (Haaretz, July 3)

  7. Israeli settlers attack Palestinian villagers —again
    Palestinians reported July 7 that Jewish settlers attacked a West Bank village, beating residents and killing three sheep. Villagers said dozens of armed settlers assaulted the residents of Yanoun, with four residents were taken to a hospital for treatment. IDF troops rushed to the scene to find the sides throwing rocks at each other and used tear gas to disperse them. But the only person arrested was a Palestinian resident. IDF medics also treated two Palestinians and one Israeli at the site. (Haaretz, July 8)

  8. Israel blocks UNHRC fact-finding mission
    The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced July 6 formation of a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements. Israel said that it would sever ties with the organization and warned that members of the mission would be blocked from entering the Jewish state. “The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Accounts in the Jewish press mentioned UNHR special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories Richard Falk’s embrace of 9-11 conspiracy theory. (Jewish Chronicle, July 9; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 6)

    In fact the UNHRC has over the past year acted on rights accusations in Syria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Israel in the past has made much of Qaddafi’s Libya on the UNHRC, but Libya was suspended from the Council after the beginning of the uprising against Qaddafi in March 2011.

  9. Migron settlement evacuated (in empty spectacle)
    Israeli security forces evacuated the settlement of Migron Sept. 2, arresting eight who had holed up in their homes and refused to be moved, as their supporters gathered nearby and chanted “Jews do not expel Jews!” Some of the houses had been painted with slogans such as “Bibi is good for Arabs.” The evacuation comes following years of legal battles that began in 2006 when Peace Now brought a petition for removal of the settlement, and the Israeli government conceded that Migron was built at least in partly on land privately owned by Palestinians.

    But note that those removed from Migron were taken to the nearby “legal” settlement of Ofra, which is set for expansion to accommodate them. (LAT, Sept. 2)

    So… when all is said and done, a nice choreographed spectacle in which the settlers get to wring their hands about how Bibi is the new Hitler and Peace Now get to pat themselves on the back for bringing about the removal of an “illegal” settlement… and absolutely nothing is done to slow the ongoing Israeli colonization of the West Bank.