Israel’s AG says leave legalisation of West Bank outposts for after elections 19Oct12 October 19, 2012

Haaretz   -   18 October 2012

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered the cabinet not to legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts during the elections campaign period, and to leave decision on the matter to the next government.

The State Prosecutor’s Office issued this order on behalf of itself and the attorney general, in a letter to the High Court of Justice regarding debate over outpost of Mitzpeh Lachish in the south Hebron region of the West Bank.

The Peace Now movement petitioned the High Court in 2007 requesting that six outposts, including Mizpeh Lachish, be dismantled in accordance with a demarcation decree issued in 2003.

In response to that petition, the government decided to legalize outposts built on state-owned land, and to dismantle any structures built on private land.

In line with this decision, several structures in the Ramat Gilad outposts were relocated from private to state land, and some buildings in the outpost of Mizpeh Yitzhar were demolished.

The High Court subsequently ordered the government to report on the progress and status in each of the outposts in question.

Progress report on the outposts

The government said it was “willing to legalize” Mizpeh Lachich, but wished to postpone the decision.

The government had promised to dismantle Givat Assaf, which in its entirety is built on private Palestinian land, by the end of 2011, but has requested on a number of occasions to postpone the demolition.

The government recently informed the court that residents have purchased parts of two lots on the land, comprising the majority of the community’s houses. The government is currently studying the significance of that move.

In Mizpeh Yitzhar, residents have built four new houses on private land, and the government has announced that the outpost will be demolished.

A new construction in the outpost of Ma’ale Rehavam, built on private land, has already been demolished.

At Givat Haro’eh, near the settlement of Eli, supervisors have discovered new construction work on disputed land. This outpost is regarded as the “baby” of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council, which is using its political clout to safeguard it. The government has not yet announced whether it plans to demolish the new structures.

Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer told Haaretz in response to the report: “The government has forgotten that enforcing the law is not a political question linked to the elections, but rather, its duty to the citizens. The government is again forcing the Prosecutor’s Office to manipulate the law due to inner political considerations, and to placate the settlers.”

Settlers from the settlement of Yitzhar urged the government to “regulate Mizpeh Yitzhar according to the guidelines formulated by the Edmund Levy report,” referring former justice Levi’s document favoring West Bank settlements.

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan has meanwhile sent a letter to the prime minister and cabinet ministers, calling on them to officially approve the Levy Report despite the upcoming elections.

Dayan’s letter included several important decisions approved by former caretaker governments, and a High Court ruling and attorney general directive declaring that caretaker governments are authorized to make moves and reach decisions like any other government.

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