Demolitions in Beit El
Demolitions in Beit ElYonatan Sindel, Flash90

A day after the tractors that tore down the Draynoff Houses left the site, the Judea and Samaria Council and the Beit El Local Authority will hold a cornerstone-laying at the site – for the construction of new homes there. The new homes, according to spokepeople for the Council and Local Authority, will not experience the same problems the previous structures did – because, unlike previously, all the paperwork for planning and construction is in place before building is to commence.

Demolition of the contested Draynoff homes in Beit El, in the Binyamin region north of Jerusalem, took place Wednesday, a day before a High Court deadline for them to be torn down. Legal maneuvers to keep the demolitions from taking place were exhausted after the Court refused to issue an injunction, a move that project supporters had hoped would be implemented after the Civil Authority last week retroactively authorized the building plan for the project.

Previously, the state had argued that the project was illegally built, as it had not been properly “grandfathered” into a law passed in 1979 that discussed construction of homes on areas that had been previously been closed military zones. Now that the approval has been given by the Civil Authority, plans can be submitted for the new construction to planning commissions and other panels that need to approve them.

The cornerstone-laying follows government approval Wednesday of the construction of 300 new homes in Beit El. The 300 units were promised by the Israeli government three years ago after the relocation of the Ulpana houses in Beit El. In addition, 91 housing units in Jerusalem will be marketed, and planning will begin for 24 homes in Pisgat Ze'ev, 300 homes in Ramot, 70 homes in Gilo, and 19 units at Har Homa.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the approvals, reiterating that "settlements are illegal under international law, an impediment to peace and cannot be reconciled" with Israel's "stated intention to pursue a two-state solution," his spokesman said in a statement released in New York. Ban urged Israel "to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace" his spokesman said.