Daily Israel Report

High Court Holds Up Razing of Arab Structures

Be'er Sheva court ordered 30 Bedouin villas torn down. Local authority appealed and High Court ruled structures can remain until appeal is heard.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/12/2010, 7:49 PM

Regavim

The High Court for Justice postponed Monday the carrying out of demolition orders against 30 illegal Bedouin-Arab mansions in the Negev.

The High Court decision was handed down in an appeal by the Abu Basma Local Authority against a verdict given in February by the Court for Administrative Matters in Be'er Sheva. The villas will not be razed for the time being, until the appeal is heard and decided.

The Be'er Sheva court found in favor of a motion by Regavim, an NGO that specializes in fighting illegal Arab construction, against the Abu Basma Local Authority. The Be'er Sheva court had given the Abu Basma Council 12 months to tear down the 30 illegal buildings which have demolition orders pending against them, and to begin legal steps against 35 other illegal buildings.

'Selective and arbitrary enforcement'
The Abu Basma Authority's appeal contended that the court was not right to interfere in the Authority's enforcement policy and that forcing it to demolish that specific group of buildings constituted “selective and arbitrary enforcement.” It said that forcing it to demolish these structures would prevent it from using its enforcement resources in places that were more important for development of community infrastructures. 

Regavim replied that the appeal should be denied because the Council avoids taking action against illegal construction “as a matter of principle.” 

High Court Judge Chanan Meltzer noted in his decision that the structures have been standing for several years and do not constitute an immediate danger. Their demolition, therefore, is required “only for one purpose – the great importance of which goes without saying – of maintaining the rule of law in general and the planning and construction rules specifically.”

The overall balance of considerations on both sides justifies delaying the carrying out of the verdict until the appeal process is completed, the judge ruled.