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Similar Issue, Different Court Rules for Beit El, Modi'in Illit

It would appear that the High Court rules differently on how to deal with Arab land ownership challenges depending upon the region affected.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 6/3/2012, 12:40 AM

Buildings in Ulpana neighborhood
Buildings in Ulpana neighborhood
Israel news photo: Baruch Gordon

It would appear that the High Court rules differently on how to deal with Arab land challenges depending upon the region that is affected. 

The High Court has ruled that Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood must be torn down -- and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this weekend went to great lengths to support the decision while searching for a way to mollify, if not maintain the residents in their homes.

But that very same Court allowed a similar neighborhood to remain in its place, undisturbed, in Modi'in Illit several years ago.

The legality of the neighborhood of East Matityahu was also challenged by a petition submitted by the extreme leftist Peace Now organization together with the mayor of the Arab village of Bil'in, claiming the neighborhood was built on land owned by the village.

An injunction was issued by the High Court in January 2006 that blocked residents from moving into their homes -- but was was canceled more than a year and a half later, in September 2007.

A panel of justices comprised of Judges Eliezer Rivlin, Miriam Naor and Ayala Procaccia ruled the residents had to pay the petitioners their court costs instead – an amount totaling some NIS 160,000 – because “the initial petition filed on the matter was justified.”

But the justices rejected the petition to destroy the neighborhood. 

In their ruling, the judges explained that after they had issued their initial injunction in 2006, the state had revoked the neighborhood plan, and revised it to amend the flaws. “Once the second plan was approved, the petitioners no longer had a just cause for complaint against the plan,” the judges ruled, adding that to demolish homes already built “would hurt innocent buyers, some of whom are already living in the apartments.”