HCJ 9060/08 Abed Al Jani Yasin Khaled Abdallah v the Minister of Defense

Petition Submission Date: 29.10.2008

Petition Description: In 2003, illegal construction began on five structures on land known as Jabel Artis (termed Ulpana Hill), which belongs to two residents of the Palestinian village of Dura al Qara. The State issued demolition orders against the structures, but did not enforce them. In October 2008, the landowners petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) with the assistance of Yesh Din, to ask that demolition orders be implemented and to prevent the structures house people. The petition also demanded the demolition of five portable structures positioned in the area.

The petition noted that in 2003, the petitioners received notice of a seizure order for their land just as construction on permanent structures for the settlement structures began on their land. Later, it became clear that the seizure order was never issued, and subsequently the State claimed that there had been a “mistake.”

After filing the petition, the Kiryat Yeshiva Beit El Development Company (YBEDC) claimed it had purchased the land in question, but after examination, the purchase documents were revealed to be false. The State notified the Court in January 2010 that “The seller’s name on the purchase documents submitted is not that of the registered owner of the plot, and there was no other registered owner in the past.” Additional documents submitted to the Court raise the suspicion that they were fraudulent; Yesh Din filed a complaint with the police, but the investigation was closed without indictment.

In May 2011, the State notified the HCJ that if the residents do not demolish the structures themselves within a year, it would enforce the demolition orders. However, a few days before the last date for demolition, the State submitted an unusual request to “renew hearing of the petition” even though a ruling was already handed down. The request stated that, “the prime minister and ministerial forum request to reconsider the way the policy is implemented” as per demolition orders in the West Bank. It also claimed that the court decision could affect the fate of other houses built on private Palestinian property, and as a result of such consequences, “it was decided that the priorities regarding law enforcement in the area should be revisited, combining planning and property considerations with matters of diplomacy, operational and public opinion.

Then Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis rejected the request and wrote, “there is a unique importance in the State meeting its obligations and maintaining the principle of res judicata regarding proceedings in the High Court of Justice. Accepting the State position, according to which the push to reexamine the policy constitutes grounds for opening an already completed proceeding could lead to difficult outcomes. Policy, by nature, is not static. Will the State request to reopen proceedings that were completed every time it reexamines a policy? Indeed, a policy change in and of itself is not grounds for deviating from the principle of res judicata.”

According to media reports, due to concerns that the upcoming evacuation would spark violent confrontations, the government reached an agreement with the residents of Beit El for a peaceful evacuation in exchange for the government’s commitment to build 300 additional housing units in Beit El. In June 2012, the illegal structures were removed and demolished.

Petition Status: The petition was accepted and the houses demolished