Court Rules: No Excuse for Lack of Zoning or Town Plan in Itamar
On Monday, one day after the ceremony marking 30 days since the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar, a discussion regarding the community’s building plans took place in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
The discussion was held following a lawsuit filed by five families from Itamar, who bought homes several years ago from a housing and development company that sold the houses on behalf of the Housing Ministry. Despite the fact that the State of Israel and the Housing Ministry, which are bodies that are responsible for maintaining the building and planning laws in Israel, built the homes and populated them with residents, the homes were built without an authorized master plan and zoning plan and therefore without a permit.
The plaintiffs, families from Itamar, argued in court that they lived in the homes and when they wanted to purchase them the bank requested that they present a building permit so that they could obtain a mortgage, and only then did they discover that there were no building permits because of the lack of zoning.. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Doron Nir Zvi, claimed that the purchase contract states that the house was built according to the planning and building laws in Judea and Samaria.
The housing and development company argued that it had not checked out the planning situation when it got the homes from the Housing Ministry, and that obtaining building plans today is a very complex issue because it is a political and diplomatic one, and is not under the authority of the housing and development company.
In his decision, Judge Yair Dlugin ordered the housing and development company to contact the relevant state bodies in order to obtain a detailed and reasoned reply in writing as to why there are no zoning plans allowing building permits for the homes purchased by residents in Itamar.
“Since there is no dispute that the plaintiffs live there and have acquired the rights to live there through signed agreements with the defendant, it is inconceivable that they will continue to live there without building permits being issued,” wrote Judge Dlugin. “It does not seem to me that there is any justification for this, not even one grounded by politics.”
Several weeks ago, 45 Knesset members from all over the political spectrum (both left and right) approached Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, demanding that they act quickly and approve the master plan of the community of Itamar.
The MKs noted that the community of Itamar was established under a government decision, but since there is no town plan, the residents are condemned to live a life full of shortages. The appeal came following the brutal massacre of Itamar residents Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children. The fence around the town was not maintained by the IDF due to the undecided nature of its lands.
“Our goal is to help the residents and enable them to live a normal life in Itamar like in Tel Aviv, regardless of the political debate,” wrote the MKs, who demanded from the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense: “Immediately approve the budget for all the security needs of the community, and put an end to this intolerable situation in which the bureaucracy repeatedly pays an unbearable price and residents are forced to bear the heavy security costs themselves. The responsibility for the security of residents must be transferred to the IDF. Immediately begin building permanent buildings both for the local school and hesder yeshiva headed by Rabbi Ronsky, and put an end to this shameful situation in which educational institutions operate in old mobile homes that are crumbling. Doing this is the way to perpetuate the memory of the Fogel family who was essentially a family of education and of Torah.”