The High Court issued several months ago an intermediary order to halt all construction in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim, however the construction work has continued. Supreme Court judges on Monday criticized the State for not doing enough in order to stop the construction in the settlement – west of Ariel.
According to a petition filed in August by the Peace Now leftist organization, the construction in Kiryat Netafim consists of 15 permanent structures that are being completed "at the speed of light," on land defined as public or as private land under Palestinian ownership.
Peace Now claimed in the petition that back in March of 2009 it discovered that foundation works began, and five months later there were already 15 large scale skeletons that were all built illegally and without permits.
Following the petition, the Supreme Court judges issued an intermediary order to stop all construction work. However, despite the court order construction work has resumed. Following this recent discovery, Peace Now filed a petition for contempt of the court as well as a petition to extend the intermediary order in a manner that would obligate the State to take actions that ensure the order is being obeyed.
The Supreme Court Justices – Eliezer Rivlin, Salim Joubran and Yoram Danzinger – criticized the State's conduct. "You yourselves say that the order has been violated. What steps has the State of Israel taken to deal with the order that was disobeyed? Can you share the State's thoughts about what it should do in light of the violation of the order," Justice Joubran asked State Prosecution representative attorney Ilana Gorni.
'Court orders should be honored'
"There is no debate over the fact that court orders need to be legally honored," Justice Rivlin added.
Attorney Gorni replied to the criticism and said the court should not interfere with the State's considerations and that its criticism is well known, however there are no concrete answers vis-à-vis how to handle the violation of court orders.
Gorni added that the State intends on examining the possibility of permitting the construction of the structures, and therefore there is no point in discussing the petition.
Peace Now representative attorney Shlomi Zacharia said the State must use whatever enforcement measures it can, "We pointed out several measures it can take but has not – such as opening criminal proceedings against violators of the orders and declaring the vicinity a closed military area. However," Zacharia added, "the State has abstained from anything that has to do with enforcement; it is in fact perpetuating the lawlessness and is looking to do so with the court's seal of approval."
The Supreme Court justices said they will make a decision on the matter later on Monday. After the hearing, attorney Zacharia told Ynet, "The State's demand is nothing less than controversial, and sends out a message of colossal lack of enforcement."