Supreme Court Stays Givat Assaf Ruling Until July 2012
Israel's Supreme Court accepted a request submitted on behalf of the Defense Ministry by the State Attorney to postpone a final ruling regarding the community of Givat Assaf near Beit El.
The court directed State Attorneys to submit a brief updating them on the future of Givat Assaf in July 2012.
The State's request for a stay came amid furor among nationalist and lawmakers from ruling Likud coalition over a decision by Supreme Court president Dorit Benisch that effectively doomed several Jewish towns and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria after suits filed by leftist NGO's claiming they were built on Arab land.
Benisch ruled all disputed parcels of land in Judea and Samaria not registered as state land were ‘Arab land' by default. This ignores the fact that Jordan was an occupier of the area from 1949-1967 only and the land was originally supposed to be part of the Jewish homeland.
The High Court, which does not hear evidentiary disputes, also refused to refer the case to a lower court, despite the lack of evidence of ownership on the part of claimants and evidence of private Jewish land ownership pursuant to some of the parcels being in play.
The decision led critics to charge the court was issuing an ideological ruling under the color of law and caused a confrontation between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the majority of the lawmakers in his own faction. MK Yariv Levin warned Netanyahu that carrying out demolition orders in threatened communities – like Givat Assaf – could split the Likud.
Netanyahu also found himself under pressure from the faction heads of his ruling coalition, who represent a majority of seats in the Knesset. As a result, after reports of elevated disputes between Netanyahu's office and the bureau of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the state requested a stay in order to find an alternative to demolishing the outposts.
The PMO says it is striving to find a legal solution that would normalize the threatened communities - notably Amona, Givat Assaf, Migron, and Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood - and avert their destruction.
Critics of the Supreme Court and Civil Administration say other - more just - solutions exist to land disputes than destroying homes and evicting families from disputed land that was built with the knowledge and/or cooperation of the government. In the few cases where a disputant can prove private-ownership through normal evidentiary means, they say, monetary compensation or alternative land grants should be the norm.