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HCJ: Evict five buildings at Givat ha-Ulpana by July 1
The Israeli Supreme Court today published its decision rejecting the state’s application to reopen the hearing of the petition in the Givat ha-Ulpana case. The court ordered that the five buildings constructed on private land owned by Palestinians be evicted by July 1, 2012. The ruling was granted in response to a petition by the Palestinian landowners from the village of Dura al-Qara, who demanded the enforcement of demolition orders issued against the buildings and the return of the land to its true owners. The petition was submitted with the assistance of the human rights organization Yesh Din.
The current ruling was granted following an unprecedented application submitted to the Supreme Court by the state on April 27, 2012, requesting the reopening of the discussion of the case. The application was submitted just a few days before the deadline for the implementation of the demolition orders, in accordance with an undertaking given by the state approximately one year ago, and enshrined in a peremptory court ruling granted on September 21, 2011. The state requested an extension of 90 days, during which it intended to discuss the matter and formulate an updated position reflecting the policy change as decided by the political echelon.
Following the state’s application, the Supreme Court held a special session on May 6, 2012. The session saw sharp exchanges between the representative of the State Attorney’s Office, Attorney Osnat Mandel from the Supreme Court Petitions Department, and Justices Fogelman and Jubran, who sat on the panel together with the retired Supreme Court President, Justice Grunis. During the hearing, Justice Fogelman commented: “When the state comes and asks for something, we are confident that it will perform it; there is a measure of mutual respect between the systems, and this is why we did not issue a decree absolute.”
Attorney Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s legal advisor and the attorney for the landowners who were the appellants in the case, claimed during the hearing that: “Regrettably, the State Attorney’s Office is fighting against the public interest and against the rule of law… this constitutes the complete collapse of the entire system of the rule of law. What will the State Attorney’s Office say to a defendant who reneges on a plea bargain? What moral authority will it hold?... This application should never have been submitted. The attorney general should have resigned in order to defend the rule of law with his body… The state appears here like a compulsive gambler who asks for more time while upping the stakes.”
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.”
Following the court's decision, Attorney Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's Legal Adviser who represents the Palestinian landowners in the case, said, "The moment the State submitted its unprecedented request, this case became a broader struggle than that of the petitioners alone, and became a struggle to preserve the basic norms of a regime based on the rule of law. The Court delivered its verdict, and now the character and the values upon which Israeli society is founded are put to the test. I sincerely hope that this ruling will be implemented immediately and without any further delay."