Israel’s Supreme Court rejects request to delay Ulpana razing


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court rejected the Israeli government’s request to delay the razing of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

In upholding its ruling of last September, the panel of judges on Monday ordered that the neighborhood of several apartment buildings be razed by July 1.

The court also ordered the government to pay the legal expenses of the Palestinian owners of the property, as well as damages of about $4,000.

The Yesh Din organization, which represents the Palestinian landowners in the case, praised the court for its verdict and hoped the ruling would be implemented without further delay.

"The Court delivered its verdict, and now the character and the values upon which Israeli society is founded are put to the test," Yesh Din legal adviser Michael Sfard said in a statement.

In September, tthe high court ruled that the five apartment buildings found to be built on private Palestinian land be razed by May 1. The state told the court that it would obey the ruling.

On April 27, however, the State Attorney’s Office notified the court that the government would wait on the demolition pending a review of its policies regarding West Bank structures built on contested and privately owned land.

During a hearing Sunday, the justices criticized the government’s request to review a closed case "unprecedented."

In Monday’s decision, the justices said that "authority to reopen a finalized legal procedure, assuming that it exists, is reserved for unusual situations and extraordinary circumstances. Those circumstances have not been presented in this case, even if it does raise difficult question of public and social policy."

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