Government Asks to Postpone Destruction

The government is seeking the Supreme Court’s authorization to postpone the demolition of a Beit El neighborhood.

Maayana Miskin ,

Female soldiers near Beit El.
Female soldiers near Beit El.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

State attorneys appealed Friday to the Supreme Court, asking for a 90-day delay in the planned demolition of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El. The court ruled last year that residents of the neighborhood must be evicted by May 1.

If the court grants the three-month extension, the government plans to use the extra time to find a legal solution that will allow the community to remain standing.

The government’s appeal follows an appeal by residents of the neighborhood, who have turned to the Jerusalem District Court in an attempt to prove that they, and not Palestinian Authority Arab claimants, are the rightful owners of the land. They say the Supreme Court’s ruling was based on inaccurate information.

Speaking to Kol Yisrael radio, Minister Benny Begin pointed out that if the District Court finds in favor of the Beit El residents, the cost of rebuilding demolished homes will be high. The government would be unwise to destroy homes at this point, he said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is among those who has called to wait and clarify the matter before proceeding with demolition. At a Cabinet meeting this week, Barak said there are three matters that need clarification: the location of several caravan homes just outside the Beit El city limit, two incomplete buildings that may not be legal, and the legal status of five occupied buildings. The latter is the topic of the District Court case.

For the first time, Barak openly stated that the Supreme Court’s original finding may not have been correct. “If it turns out that there was a purchase, and there are documents, that will of course open the door to new options,” he said.

MK Zahava Gal-On, head of the Meretz party, cast doubt on the state’s chance to win time for the District Court hearing. The Supreme Court previously rejected a similar appeal regarding Migron, she said.