Illegal construction in the Ulpana neighborhood (Jabel Artis) - Background

Beginning of the illegal construction
The construction of five permanent buildings slated for evacuation on July 1, 2012 (and not the entire neighborhood) in the Jabel Artis complex, on land that belongs to residents of the Palestinian village of Dura al-Qara, began in 2006. Immediately after the construction began, the Civil Administration issued a final order to stop the work and demolish the illegal construction outside of the jurisdiction of the settlement of Beit El and without an outline plan
Submission of the High Court of Justice petition
In October 2008, before the buildings were populated, the Palestinian land owners from the village of Dura al-Qara, with the assistance of Yesh Din, submitted a petition to the HCJ (High Court of Justice). In the petition they demanded that the demolition orders be realized and population of the buildings built illegally on private land in the Jabel Artis complex be prevented (HCJ 9060/08).

“Amana” Corporation and the Beit El yeshiva campus of ownership claim of the land turned out to be a forgery
The State absolutely rejected the claims of a sale that supposedly took place in 2000:
* The purchase agreement was fictitious: "The name of the seller on the purchase documents presented is not the registered owner of the plot nor was he the registered owner in the past." (State response to HCJ, January 2010)
* Amana knew that the “seller” was not the legal owner of the land: "We should add that the purchasing company knew the name of the seller was not identical to that entered in the land registry.” (Letter from deputy staff officer for land, February 2010)
* The seller was seven years old when the land was registered and therefore could not have been entered as its owner (Letter from deputy staff officer for land, February 2010).
* The purchase agreement was not approved by the authorities and not registered in the land registry, even though the status of the land in question was settled and it was registered in the land registry ledgers. "As long as no change was made in the registration in the land registry ledgers, the yeshiva complex (or any other party that is not registered as the owner) has no property rights to the land because the registration in the land registry ledgers is what counts." Furthermore, no transaction permit was granted by the Civil Administration for a land transaction (State response to the HCJ, January 2010).

The buildings are populated by rental
A letter received from the Ramallah DCO as part of the petition in November 2008 said that "the Beit El Development Company built the buildings and populated them with renters." Therefore, none of the people who live in the buildings of the "Ulpana neighborhood," against which the petition was submitted, claim ownership of the houses. Rather, an external company is renting out the houses.

The State committed to evacuate the buildings by May 1, 2012
The State announced in a deposition on May 1, 2011 that it would carry out the demolition orders within one year if the houses were not demolished sooner by their owners.

Attempts made to undermine the State's commitment to evacuate by other legal proceedings
Three days before the last HCJ hearing, in a procedure whose sole purpose was to claim that "there is a proceeding at the District Court," a claim for a declaratory remedy saying that Amana was the owner of one of the plots in question was submitted to the Jerusalem District Court. The claim was based on an alleged sales agreement made in 2000, even though the Israel Police had already determined the "seller" was not the real owner of the land.
Eventually, the plaintiffs withdrew this claim of ownership of some of the neighborhood land and it was rejected by the District Court. The retreat of the settler representatives from this claim reveals its true nature – a spurious proceeding whose entire purpose was to distract the HCJ judges and the public. This proves that the settler representatives do not and never did have a solid claim of ownership to any of the land, and that the construction of the neighborhood was based on theft of Palestinian land.

The HCJ ruling
At an HCJ hearing on September 21, 2011, the State reiterated its position that it intended to implement the demolition orders against the buildings by May 1, 2012, as it had written in its writ of response. The HCJ accepted the State's position and repeated it in the decision. Therefore and since a target date existed for the realization of the orders, the court decided that the legal procedure was concluded.

The State requests to cancel the HCJ ruling and prevent the State obligation to return the land to its lawful owners
On Friday, April 27, 2012 the state submitted a request to the High Court of Justice to renew hearings on the petition and cancel the ruling to evacuate the five buildings in the neighborhood. The state requested a 90-day extension, during which a current state position will be deliberated and submitted. This will be a result of the policy change the political echelon will decide on. The request was submitted a few days before the deadline for the execution of the demolition orders, to which the state had committed to the HCJ a year ago, and which was anchored in a final verdict last September.
Attorney Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's legal advisor, said in response that the government of Israel declared war on the rule of law and the court. “No citizen could reopen a file in which a verdict was given and the state's request breaks all the rules of the game. To help settlers steal Palestinian land, the government is willing to crush even the most fundamental values upon which Israeli society is built.”

HCJ decision: The state must observe the ruling by July 1, 2012
On May 7, 2012, the court granted its decision (in a panel comprising President Justice Asher Grunis and Justices Salim Jubran and Uzi Fogelman). The decision stated that the Supreme Court ruling is to be observed to the letter, and order the state to implement the demolition orders against the five buildings by July 1.
Supreme Court President, Justice Asher Grunis, wrote in his grounds for the ruling that: “In proceedings before the High Court of Justice, the maintenance of the undertaking by the State and the protection of the principle of the finality of the hearing are of particular importance. Accepting the State’s position that the desire to reconsider policy constitutes grounds for opening a completed proceeding could have grave consequences. By its nature, policy is not static. Will the State ask to open proceedings that ended in a verdict every time any policy is reconsidered?! A policy change, per se, surely does not constitute grounds for deviating from the finality of the hearing.”

Removal of 5 buildings further delayed
On June 25, four days before the High Court issued deadline to remove the five buildings in the Ulpana neighborhood, and on the same day that the evacuation of the residents began, the State Attorney's Office filed a request to delay the removal of the buildings by four and a half months. A response was filed by the Palestinian landowners, with the help of Yesh Din, declaring that the State's request presents the court with a fait accompli and actually creates a contempt of court order, the second time in this case.
Therefore, the petitioners demanded that they receive significant guarantees that the implementation of the removal of the five houses be upheld, including a demand that the Defense Minister be held personally accountable in the event of another violation. The State rejected the response and – on 01.07.12 the Supreme Court accepted the State's request and the deadline for the final removal of the buildings has been postponed until 15.11.12.
A week prior to that deadline, the State submitted a an extension motion to for dismantling the buildings by another two months until January 15, 2013, due to unexpected delays, in their words. Following that, another decision was made in the petition which partly accepts the State's motion and sets a final date for realization of the verdict: January 1, 2013. The decision says that removal of the buildings must be completed by that date, whether by sawing or demolition (if they don't meet the new deadline). Furthermore, the State was charged with another 7500 NIS in expenses for the petitioners because of its conduct in this affair.



The Petition (Hebrew)
Petition Summary (English)
State Response - November 2008 (Hebrew)
State Response - January 2010 (Hebrew)
State Response - September 2010 (Hebrew)
State commitment to evacuate the buildings by May 1, 2012 (Hebrew)
HCJ ruling- September 2011 (Hebrew)
State request to renew hearings on the petition - April 2012 (Hebrew)
HCJ decision - May 2012 (Hebrew)
State request to postpone removal of houses - June 2012 (Hebrew)
Yesh Din's Response to State's Request - June 2012 (Hebrew)
HCJ decision - July 1, 2012 (Hebrew)
Summary of Facts Presentation (Hebrew)

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