Hayovel and Haresha – Illegal construction

Peace Now, presented by attorney Michael Sfard, appeal regarding illegal construction in the Hayovel and Haresha outposts

During September 2005, Peace Now appealed (document in Hebrew) to the Supreme Court against the illegal construction of 12 buildings in the Hayovel outpost (South of Eli) as well as an additional six buildings in the Haresha outpost (adjacent to Talmon). This is the second appeal submitted by Peace Now regarding unauthorized outposts. The first appeal was submitted in July 2005 in relation to unexecuted demolition orders (document in Hebrew) that had been issued against nine houses in Amona.

The two outposts in reference, Hayovel and Haresha, were established during Binyamin Netanyahu’s term as Prime Minister (1996-1999).  Half of the illegal outposts that exist today throughout the West Bank were established during that period. Construction of permanent housing is being carried out in these outposts, as in a number of other, more veteran outposts. Most of the outposts construct rows of buildings, one after another, in order to save time and expenses.

It is important to point out that these buildings are illegal constructions (see our appeal regarding this matter and the response of the Civil Administration).  In addition, they are constructed on “survey land” and on privately owned Palestinian land.

It is important to note that contrary to the State’s response (document in Hebrew) to this appeal, “Survey Land” is not land that can be claimed by the State as its own.  “Survey Land” is land about which there is doubt regarding its ownership, and a survey procedure has been initiated regarding this land, aimed at authenticating the question of ownership rights.  In many cases, settlements and outposts were constructed on survey land.  The issue of ownership of such lands became a fait accompli the moment construction was carried out on them, without the verification of land rights as required by the law.

The Sasson Report exposes the method behind the illegal construction being carried out in the territories, whose scope stands at thousands of residential units.

Attorney Talia Sasson reported as follows:
“As far as I know, thousands of demolition orders against Israel illegal construction in the territories have remained pending for many years … the demolition orders are not being executed.  The execution of a demolition order requires the approval of the Minister of Defense, and as a rule, the various Ministers of Defense throughout the years have not accorded this.   It should be noted that the very fact that demolition orders are issued without implementing them contributes, in itself, to the lack of law enforcement atmosphere.” (P. 221 of the Sasson Report).

The Peace Now appeal refers to the crux of Attorney Talia Sasson’s words.  It is a fact that for a number of years, Ministers of Defense have avoided fulfilling their basic legal obligation to enforce the constructions laws when it came to the settlers.  To make matters worse, they have even provided the settlers with assistance when it came to guarding or financing.  Thus it has become essential that the Supreme Court become involved, since there is no reason that issues regarding law enforcement should be dealt with by this or any other Minister of Defense in the light of political interests.

The two outposts that are the subject of this appeal are mentioned several times in the Sasson Report.  The Report even shares the following information regarding the outposts with the readers:

– Date established:  1995
– Nearest settlement: Talmon, 1.5 kms as the crow flies
– Establishment approved by the Cabinet or the Minister of Defense: No
– Type of rights to the land: Survey land
– Body that allocated the land: None
– Planning status: None
– Area of jurisdiction: None
– Number of residents: 30 families
– Body financing the establishment: Minister of Housing and Construction provided 2,560,000 NIS for establishing the infrastructure; 100,000 NIS for constructing public buildings; total financial assistance provided: 1,660,000 NIS.
– Connection to electricity grid: connection of site to electricity grid approved
– Connection to water: water taken from Talmon, which, apparently, as reported by a number of sources, provides water to the adjacent outposts

– Date established:  1998
– Nearest settlement: Eli, 1.5 kms as the crow flies
– Establishment approved by the Cabinet or the Minister of Defense: No
– Type of rights to the land: State lands + private Palestinian land
– Body that allocated the land: Allocation agreement with the Zionist Histadrut, valid until 2033.
– Planning status: None
– Area of jurisdiction: Mate Binyamin Regional Council, region of Eli
– Number of residents: 22 families
– Type of structures: 22 caravans; 16 permanent houses; 33 construction sites; additional frames for future construction; 5 containers; water reservoir.
– Body financing the establishment: Minister of Housing and Construction provided 2,750,000 NIS for establishing the infrastructure.
– Connection to electricity grid: no request has been submitted to connect outpost to electricity grid.

Peace Now’s Settlement Watch team has often highlighted the authorities assistance in the continued construction in these and other outposts, however nothing has been done to put a stop to it.  It is our intention that the results of this appeal will bring about a change in the authorities’ approach to dealing with the issue of enforcing the law upon Israelis in the territories in general, and in particular, the issue of illegal construction in the outposts.

To date, one hearing of this appeal has taken place.  In its appeal, Peace Now requested that an order nisi be issued ordering all inhabitants to leave the houses (some were even inhabited after the appeal had been submitted), and to sever the water and electricity infrastructures to which these houses and structures are, of course, illegally connected.

On November 23, 2005, the Court issued an order nisi (document in Hebrew) ordering the Respondents to explain within 90 days (document in Hebrew) why the steps necessary to demolish the houses, which are the subject of the appeal, have not been taken.

On May 8, 2006, the Civil Administration notified the courts that they will be commissioning a new survey of all the illegal construction taking place in the settlements.
The Civil Administration also notified that this survey will categorise the findings accordingly: Advanced Stages, Beginning Stages, Illegal Construction on private Palestinian Lands, State Lands and Surveyed Lands. Only after the survey is completed (approx four months later) will the Administration then make a demolition plan accordingly.
For the report in Ynetnews – click here

On January 10, 2007 the State again requested to postpone the hearing until the end of Feburary under the guise that it had to complete its “mapping” of the area that began over 9 months ago.
Peace Now opposed this request and exposed it as another attempt to gain more time until a decision has to made on this issue. The State has had ample time to prepare debates, plans, maps, and to get the highest levels in the army and politics involved. In addition while the State is dragging on its “mapping” and “preparing arguments” etc the illegal construction is continuing at a rapid pace, and the buildings in question in this petition have already been occupied and in some places construction completed.

On August 6, 2007, a day before the scheduled hearing the court agreed to the State’s request for a further postponement due the need for the New Defence minister to learn the materials.
This was a similar tactic used in the recent hearing on the Migron Outpost.
The state was given until September 10th to respond, and then set the date for the hearing to be at 6/2/08.

On February 3rd, 2008 the State informed the court that the enforcement of the law in Haresha and Hayovel was not the top priority of the enforcement activities. The State asked for another 45 days to prepare a plan for the enforcement of demolition orders in all of the outposts which will include the priorities for implementation.
For the full response of the State – Click Here
On February 6th, 2008, the Supreme Court gave the State 60 day to present the plan.

For Peace Now’s comments to the list presented by the State – click here

On May 19 2008, the state (unsurprisingly) requested another extension, its twelfth to date. Thus Peace Now has requested an immediate court decision to end this process being dragged out any longer for no particular reason.
For the full document (in Hebrew) – click here

On August 13, 2008, the Court decided to grant the state’s request for a postponement, the 17th to date! The State now has until September 1st 2008, to submit its response to this petition.

On September 25, 2008, the state requested the 18th postponement.

On October 27, 2008, after 3 years and 20 postponements – the state submits a response which included a declaration by Yoav Mordechi from the Civil Administration that stated on 6/10/08 the Minister of Defense would enforce demolition orders according to the time frame he sees fit.
The top priorities mentioned are to stop the construction of new structures and to prevent the establishment of new outposts. Following this the Minister will concentrate on outposts built on private Palestinian land and buildings whose construction has been completed, but have yet to be populated.
The Civil Administration also declared a number of structures has been destroyed in the past months, as a proof of its seriousness.

Peace Now condemns this ridiculous and embarrassing attempt by the government to positions itself as the up keepers of law and order in the West Bank.
When the petition was originally submitted the houses in question were in the process of being constructed, on private Palestinian land. While the Court awaited a government response the construction was completed and the houses were populate.
If there was any intention by the authorities to adhere to the law they claim to uphold, then they had numerous opportunities to enact these demolition orders prior to the population of the houses.

On July 12 2009, Justice’s ruled that the State has a deadline of 4 months – and then it must present to the court a detailed plan for the evacuation. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, Justice Alyakim Rubenstein and Justice Yoram Dantziger wrote in their ruling about the failure to evacuate 18 houses in the illegal outposts: “for these reasons, the country must implement the provisions for evacuation or at least draw a decisive timeline for implementation as a part of her liability to and conscientiousness of the law”. For the court decision (in Hebrew).

On January 10th 2010, after the election of the Netanyahu Government, the State changed its position and informed the court, for the first time, that it will conduct a survey of the lands in order to determine whether the lands could be declared as “State Land” (i.e. be confiscated). On May 4th 2010, the State informed the court that according to the results of the survey he legalization of the outposts will be determined.

Meanwhile, it appeared that at least some of houses in Hayovel were built on private Palestinian land that was cultivated and that cannot be declared as State Land.

On February 9th 2011 the State asked the court for another 45 days in order to conduct another discussion with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense on the issue. This was the 26th time in this court case that the government asked for a delay, and the petitioners asked the court to give the final ruling in the case.

On August 24th 2011 the State informed the court of the progress that was made in the process of legalizing the outposts and that on the 26th of June 2011 the Civil Administration issued a “Declaration on State Land” order in order to confiscate the lands for the outposts. For more information on the State Land declaration see here.