Israeli panel: West Bank settlements, outposts legal under int’l law

West Bank settlements are legal under international law, according to an Israeli committee set up to review the legal status of West Bank land.

The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, said in its 89-page report released late Sunday that “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.

The report recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in the West Bank in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.

The committee calls for the legalization of all outposts and allowing landowners to register land in the West Bank under their own names, as well as allowing people who built homes on Palestinian-owned land to pay compensation to the alleged owners if the construction was made in good faith.

It accepted the legal opinion of the right wing in determining that Israel is not an occupying power on the West Bank, saying that the West Bank was never a legitimate part of any surrounding country, including Jordan. “(N)o other legal entity has ever had its sovereignty over the area cemented under international law,” the report said.

In addition, there is no place in international law stating that it is illegal for Jews to live in the West Bank, the committee wrote.

The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Netanyahu established the committee in January after settler leaders called for a response to the 2005 Sasson Report on illegal outposts, which concluded that more than 100 West Bank settlements and outposts constructed from the 1990s and forward were illegal.

Evacuation of Ulpana neighborhood begins

Residents and supporters of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank held a morning prayer service as moving vans arrived to evacuate them from the disputed properties.

The first 15 families living in the outlying neighborhood of the Beit El settlement are scheduled to move to trailer homes set up at a nearby army base on July 3. The other 15 families will move on July 5, according to Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

The five apartment buildings are to be moved to 4.5 acres of state land that was a Border Police base and will be annexed to the settlement. Three hundred other dwellings also will be built there.

Movers hired by the Defense Ministry began packing up the families on June 26. Four families reportedly will passively resist the evacuation, and all the families are asking media outlets to report that they are being forced from their homes and refrain from saying that the evacuation is by agreement. An agreement to evacuate and move the buildings was struck between the government and Beit El Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed.

A statement from the Ministry of Defense said, “The operation is being carried out in full coordination, and with the agreement of community leaders and the residents themselves.”

The residents wore black shirts on June 26 that said “We Will Return.”

More than 100 Defense Ministry employees and contractors are participating in the operation, according to the ministry.

A team of employees and contractors has been assigned to each family, the ministry said, adding that it would “provide full assistance to the families during the operation and during their integration into the temporary neighborhood.”

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. A July 1 deadline was set for the evacuation.

Israeli Police conducts large-scale drill ahead of West Bank evacuation

Israel Police began an extensive drill on Monday in preparation of the expected evacuation of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

More than a thousand police officers took part in the Jordan Valley drill, joined by special forces, mounted units and riot control forces.

Five apartment buildings in the neighborhood are slated by the Supreme Court for demolition because they were built on privately owned Palestinian land. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein last week approved a plan to move residents of the five buildings to a nearby tract of land that was appropriated by the state in 1970 for military use.


Jewish settlers won’t go quietly as eviction looms

The clock is ticking for 30 Jewish settler families in the West Bank.

Israel’s Supreme Court has said their homes sit on privately-owned Palestinian land and as an eviction deadline draws near, they say they will not go quietly.

“They will have to drag me out of here,” said Yoel Fattal, 28, who lives with his wife and three young children in one of the five apartment blocs the government must tear down by July 1, on the Ulpana hill in the settlement of Beit El.

Fattal said news of the court ruling hit them “like a bolt of lightning on a clear day”. When he leased the flat five years ago, he had not imagined such a scenario could be possible.

“It hasn’t broken us, but it is very difficult,” he said as his wife sat beside him bouncing their 7-month-old son on her knee. “We are at the frontline of the struggle … our main fear is that if this goes by easily it will not stop there.”

Fattal can see the Palestinian city of Ramallah from his balcony. A military camp, where Palestinian workmen employed by Israeli authorities are preparing mobile homes as temporary housing for the 30 families, is just down the road.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. They say Jewish settlements will deny them contiguous territory. Some 311,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank against 2.5 million Palestinians.

The United Nations deems all settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. Israel disputes this and has sanctioned 120 official settlements, most of them built on land which had no registered owner when it was seized in a 1967 war.

But the anti-settlement group Peace Now says roughly 9,000 homes were built on land listed as owned by Palestinians. The fate of some of those houses is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, which is yet to rule on a number of ongoing cases.


“No one wants a fight,” Fattal’s wife, Yiska, said. “It is difficult for us and it is difficult for them too,” she said, referring to the Israeli policemen or soldiers who may be assigned to carry out the eviction order.

Ulpana is a political headache for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The settlers are a traditional support base for him, but the pending eviction has left them feeling betrayed.

“People definitely feel cheated and he (Netanyahu) probably cannot follow through on all the promises he has made,” Yoel Fattal said. In an effort to appease the settlers, Netanyahu has pledged to build 851 new homes for them in the West Bank, angering Palestinians and drawing international condemnation.

Treading through a political minefield, Netanyahu last week won a parliamentary battle against an attempt to legalize all Israeli settler homes on private Palestinian land.

Talks are ongoing between officials and settler leaders to try and avoid any violence at Ulpana. A contested eviction would be reminiscent of Israel’s removal of 8,000 Jews from Gaza in 2005—a withdrawal that still stirs great settler resentment.

Outside the Ulpana apartments, settlers have erected a protest camp. A poster on the fence says: “We will not let the destruction of the neighborhood pass quietly,” and calls on Israelis to march against the eviction.

Tyres have been stacked by the road apparently to serve as a barricade should Israeli forces move in to remove the settlers.


Beit El is the scene of several biblical tales. In one, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel and promises to give him the land of his fathers, Isaac and Abraham.

Like many settlers, Brad and Michal Kitay, who bought their Ulpana home more than two years ago, cite such Biblical ties to West Bank land, which Israel calls by its Old Testament name, Judea and Samaria, as the reason for living there.

“Unfortunately we found ourselves in the middle of a big politicization of this issue. It’s difficult on a personal level. It’s a home, it’s not a house. It’s love and it’s memories and it’s family. It’s not just brick walls,” Brad said.

There are no cardboard boxes piling up in their house and they have not begun packing their belongings.

Moshe Rosenbaum, head of the Beit El council, was one of the founders of the settlement 35 years ago. He says some 7,000 people now live there, the vast majority in houses that face no legal challenge. But he is upset that 30 families must move on.

“It is immoral, it makes no sense, it is unjust and inhuman,” Rosenbaum said of the impending eviction. “Everyone is saying this is private Palestinian land. This is a lie,” he said, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to the contrary.

“The lands were abandoned … even if it were ever proved to be owned by an Arab, he can be financially compensated,” Rosenbaum said. “Demolishing homes here will rip us apart – not just in Beit El. It will open a rift with hundreds of thousands of (Israelis) who live in Judea and Samaria.”

Palestinians have rejected offers of compensation and say they are eager to regain the Ulpana land.

Rosenbaum is concerned the eviction may get out of hand.

“Of course I’m worried. I know that thousands of people will come here. No one has control over what happens when there are thousands of people here, especially when the atmosphere is heating up,” he said.

Additional reporting by Rinat Harash; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Crispian Balmer

Activists attack contractors at Ulpana site

Activists threw rocks at contractors inspecting the Ulpana neighborhood in preparation for the evacuation of five apartment buildings there.

The inspection came as caravillas, or portable homes, were being delivered Wednesday to a military base adjacent to the community where the evacuees will be housed until their apartments are relocated. The caravillas reportedly were disguised to avoid being damaged by activists who support the neighborhood on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement.

Hours before the attack on the contractors, the rabbi of Beit El, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, called for a “decisive struggle” against the evacuation of the five apartment buildings housing 30 families. In a public letter issued Wednesday, Melamud called for “dedication and sacrifice,” and said the struggle should consist of dialogue as well as protest.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. A deadline of July 1 is set for the evacuation.

Israel’s West Bank plans stir U.S. furor, settlers’ ire

Israel’s government coupled its compliance with a Supreme Court order to remove buildings from a neighborhood on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement with the announcement of new construction in several West Bank areas.

The latter action drew a sharp rebuke from the United States and others. Meanwhile, the settlement movement appeared to be gearing up to fight the evacuation of five apartment buildings that are home to about 30 families in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El.

On Wednesday, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias said that in addition to the 300 housing units promised to Beit El in exchange for relocating the apartment buildings, he would approve 551 more reportedly in Ariel, Maale Adumim, Adam, Efrat and Kiryat Arba. His announcement came hours after the Knesset rejected a bill that would have retroactively recognized settlement outposts such as Ulpana.

The Obama administration “does not accept the legitimacy” of the plans for up to 851 new housing units for West Bank settlements, the U.S. State Department said.

“We’re very clear that continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank undermines peace efforts and contradicts Israeli commitments and obligations, including the 2003 ‘road map,’ ” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday. “Our position on settlements remains unchanged. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. And we want to see these parties – both parties, rather—refrain from these kinds of actions and to get back into negotiations.”

The United Nations official tasked with the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, in a statement by his office called the announcement “deeply troubling” and reiterated that any settlement construction in the West Bank violated international law.

“All settlement construction – whether on private Palestinian land or elsewhere in occupied Palestinian territory – is contrary to international law,” said the statement issued by the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

Senior Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said the announcement “undermines all efforts to revive the peacemaking between the two sides.”

The president of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said his organization was “profoundly disappointed” by the decision to build more houses in the West Bank, pointing out that some of the settlements proposed to receive the housing are outside of major settlement blocs. Ben-Ami, however, did praise the government’s decision to enforce the Israeli Supreme Court’s order to remove the contested buildings from the Ulpana neighborhood.

During a news conference Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly addressed West Bank settlers, calling them his “brothers and sisters.”

“There is no government that supports, or will support, settlement more than my government,” he said. “I also say that there is no government that has withstood such heavy pressures, which could have hurt settlement, and it must be understood that ours is a very complex diplomatic, national and legal environment. And in this complex reality, one must navigate wisely, sagaciously and responsibly.”

Netanyahu added that his government “will continue to strengthen settlement and we will continue to strengthen democracy in the State of Israel.”

In the Knesset, 69 lawmakers voted against the measure to recognize settlement outposts, while 22 for it in the preliminary reading. The legislation would have retroactively legalized buildings built on contested land if the owner did not challenge the construction within four years. The Ulpana apartment buildings must be evacuated by July 1, according to the Supreme Court order.

No government ministers voted for the bill; Netanyahu’s office had said Monday that ministers who voted for the bill would lose their jobs.

In his news conference, Netanyahu discussed the bill’s defeat and its significance.

“Moving homes from their location, even if it is only five homes, is certainly not an action that this government rejoices in doing,” he said. “But the court ruled as it did and we honor the decisions of the judicial system.”

Meanwhile, supporters and residents of Ulpana reportedly have started to plan for the upcoming evacuation, setting up tents in the community as well as taking delivery of dozens of tires, according to one news report.

Posters calling for large demonstrations to prevent equipment from removing the buildings have been posted in Beit El, according to reports.

Netanyahu Ulpana plan is not a precedent, AG says

A plan to relocate five apartment buildings from the Ulpana neighborhood on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement in the West Bank is not a precedent for similar situations, Israel’s attorney general told Benjamin Netanyahu.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein provided an official response Tuesday to the prime minister’s plan. Under the plan, the five apartment buildings, home to about 30 families, would be moved several hundred yards to land that is not privately owned by Palestinians, instead of being razed as ordered by the Supreme Court. In addition, 10 new housing units would be constructed in the settlement for every building moved.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land.

Weinstein said Tuesday that the main legal problem facing the plan is that the buildings would be moved to a military zone and land there can be used for only security purposes, which this move is not, according to Ynet.

The decision comes a day before a scheduled vote in the Knesset plenum on a bill that would override the Supreme Court decision to remove the buildings. The legislation would retroactively legalize buildings built on contested land if the owner does not challenge the construction within four years.

During a heated meeting Tuesday of the Knesset’s State Control Committee to discuss the settlement regulation bill, Likud minister Benny Begin told lawmakers that Netanyahu cannot promise an end to the demolition of Jewish homes in the West Bank.

Also on Tuesday, Netanyahu told two families living in Ulpana that the bill, if passed, will harm settlements,

“Even though for some people the High Court decision over Ulpana is hard, we have to respect it,” Netanyahu said, Haaretz reported. “The alternative, in the form of the bill, is likely to achieve the opposite: the evacuation of the neighborhood, and damage to the settlements. We are a government that respects the rule of law and strengthens settlement, and there is no contradiction between the two things.”

Netanyahu: I will fire any minister who votes to legalize Ulpana homes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a sharp warning to government ministers on Tuesday, threatening that anyone who votes for a bill to legalize homes on the settlement of Ulpana Hill, which was built on privately-owned Palestinian land, will be fired.

The Prime Minister’s Office has begun updating ministers on Tuesday that Netanyahu decided that the government position is to oppose a bill that would authorize settlement construction on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Officials in Netanyahu’s office said that the significance of the message was that ministers and deputy ministers could not vote for the bill.


Ulpana activists begin march to Jerusalem

Hundreds of settlement activists began marching Monday from the Ulpana neighborhood on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement in the West Bank toward Jerusalem.

The protest march is against plans to raze five apartment buildings in Ulpana, which are on land claimed by Palestinian families.

Some 300 supporters of Ulpana waving flags and carrying signs set out from the neighborhood to march to a protest tent in Jerusalem located outside of the Supreme Court, where hunger strikers have been sitting. They plan to reach Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The marchers are supporting a bill to be voted on in Knesset on Wednesday that would that would override a Supreme Court decision to remove the Ulpana buildings. The legislation would retroactively legalize buildings built on contested land if the owner does not challenge the construction within four years.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a three-point plan to physically move the buildings to land that is not claimed by Palestinians, build new housing and vigorously defend the neighborhoods in future litigation.

The plan requires the approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who spent Sunday in consultations about the possible move.

Bibi stalls bills legalizing Ulpana

Two bills that would have legalized an outlying neighborhood of a West Bank settlement, bypassing a Supreme Court decision, were stalled in the Knesset by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu asked lawmaker Zevulun Orlev of the Jewish Home Party to delay introducing his bill for two weeks while he looked for other ways to settle the issue of Ulpana, outside the outside the Beit El settlement. Lawmaker Yaakov Katz of the National Union Party also agreed to withdraw his bill, according to reports.

Netanyahu has instructed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to halt all preparations for the demolition of Ulpana during the two weeks, Ynet reported.

The bills were in response to a Supreme Court deadline of July 1 to demolish five apartment buildings that are home to some 30 families in Ulpana. The court ruled last September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. Earlier this month the court upheld its ruling when it rejected the Israeli government’s request to delay the razing of Ulpana.

Under Orlev’s bill, a Palestinian landowner must contest Jewish construction on his property in court within four years of the start of building or the completed buildings would not have to be razed.

Ulpana residents ask Supreme Court to reconsider evacuation order

Two Ulpana residents have asked Israel’s Supreme Court to reconsider its evacuation order against the neighborhood on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement in the West Bank.

Sunday’s petition, also submitted by the Forum for Law in Israel, asks the court to revoke its decision on razing the five apartment buildings, which are home to 30 families.

The Jerusalem District Court has heard a case on the ownership of the land, but it is not known when the court will rule.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled last September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. Last week, the Supreme Court upheld its ruling when it rejected the Israeli government’s request to delay the razing of Ulpana.

The couple who petitioned the court said they had not been cited in the Palestinians’ lawsuit and paid for their homes in full 10 years ago, when the neighborhood was completed, and they should not be razed.

The residents have not received any demolition orders, nor has there been any discussion about compensation, according to reports.

Some Israeli lawmakers are looking to submit legislation that would circumvent the court’s ruling.

Israeli court orders removal of settlement houses

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected on Monday a government request to delay the demolition of five apartment buildings in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, ruling the houses must be removed by July 1.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government agreed last year to remove the houses at Ulpana, on the edge of the Beit El settlement, after a court ruled they were built on private Palestinian land.

But Netanyahu came under intense pressure from within his own Likud party and from other pro-settler coalition allies to delay the demolition, and his government petitioned the court on April 27 for a three-month postponement.

The Supreme Court said in its decision on Monday that the government, which in part wanted more time to allow further checks into whether the land had been purchased legally by the current occupants, had not provided justifiable reason to “renew the discussion”.

About 30 families live in the buildings, officials say.

Israel distinguishes between settlements it has approved and outposts which were never granted official authorization.

Palestinians fear that settlements Israel has built in the territory it captured in a 1967 war will deny them a viable state.

About 310,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Alison Williams

Battle lines drawn in the West Bank’s Ulpana neighborhood, with far-reaching implications

Alex Traiman stands under a tarp in his spacious backyard as his 10-year-old, Tmima, turns cartwheels on the lawn.

“This is our home,” Treiman says, pointing to his single-floor apartment filled with books and children’s toys. 

“We did not come here to trample on anyone’s rights—we came here to raise our children with values and ethics and to settle the land of Israel.”

Through the haze on an unusually cold day in late April, the barren Judean Hills and, farther to the west, the modern office towers of the Palestinian city of Ramallah provide the background for his emotion-filled statements. Traiman, a documentary filmmaker, came to Israel from New York with his family eight years ago, moving to the settlement of Beit El.

His apartment is in the Ulpana neighborhood among a block of terraced rows of 14 identical three-story buildings, each with six apartments. Last year, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that five of the buildings, including the Traimans’, were to be demolished by May 1 because a Palestinian resident of a nearby village owns the land.

The state had specifically told the court that it would obey that ruling. But on April 27, the State Attorney’s Office notified the court that the government is reneging on the decision pending a review of its policies regarding West Bank structures built on contested and privately owned land.

All sides acknowledge that the resolution in Ulpana, however it turns out, will have significant implications for the entire settlement enterprise.

“With all that is happening—nuclear threats from Iran, instability in Egypt, war in Syria, unrest throughout the world—how have these five buildings, housing 30 dedicated, law-abiding families, become such a flashpoint?” Traiman wants to know.

The Ulpana neighborhood grew from a promise that Benjamin Netanyahu made in December 1996, during his first term as prime minister. Attending the funeral of Eta Tzur and her son, Ephraim, murdered in an ambush shooting not far from their Beit El home, Netanyahu stood by the fresh graves in the small communal cemetery and promised the thousands of mourners that in the Tzurs’ memory, a new neighborhood would be built that “would never, ever be evacuated.”

Eta Tzur’s widower, Yoel, a real estate developer working with Amana, the settlement movement’s construction and housing company, told JTA that he developed the plans for the area and personally investigated the legality of the land purchase.

“As a developer and investor, of course I wouldn’t build here if the land hadn’t been legally purchased,” he said. “Even though this land was promised to us by God, we purchased the land at its full-market value.”

Tzur said he cannot reveal the name or other details of the seller because, according to Palestinian law, any Arab who sells land to a Jew will be put to death.

Construction began in the late 1990s with the establishment of two religious high schools for girls. (In Hebrew, a religious high school for girls is known as an ulpana, thus providing the neighborhood with its name.) Construction on the apartment houses began in 2003-04, and the first residents moved into their apartments in early 2009.

Palestinian residents of the nearby village of Dura al-Kara have claimed from the beginning, however, that the land had never been legally sold, and Israeli courts issued their first stop-work order in September 1999. Since then, numerous stop-work and subsequent demolition orders have been issued.

Despite the rulings, a 2005 report prepared by attorney Talia Sasson for then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reveals that the Construction and Housing Ministry provided more than $1 million in funding for the neighborhood’s construction. Moreover, settlers who bought apartments in the buildings each received government incentive grants of some $20,000 and Israeli banks issued them mortgages underwritten by the state.

By August 2008, residents of Dura al-Kara, assisted by the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, petitioned the Supreme Court asking that the construction be stopped and the buildings not be populated. During the hearings, the state specifically told the court that the Amana company had known that the ostensible Palestinian “seller” did not have the legal right to sell the land.

The state offered to demolish the buildings and, in the last hearing in October 2011, the court issued its final ruling stating that the buildings must be demolished by May 1, 2012.

A day before that October hearing, Amana filed suit in the Jerusalem District Court demanding that the property ownership issues be clarified. However, in issuing its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that based on the state’s evidence, the buildings should be demolished regardless of the decisions in the District Court.

Beit El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum insists that the Supreme Court ruling is unjust.

“This is merely a land dispute, and it should be settled just like any land dispute,” he said. “And since we have acted in good faith, the buildings should never be demolished. At most, maybe we should compensate the real owners, if it turns out that a fraud was committed.”

But Shlomy Zacharia, one of a team of lawyers representing the Palestinians, insists that the settlers’ claims that the issue “is merely a land dispute” are disingenuous.

“They have known all along—even the state has told them—that the land is not theirs,” he said. “They are acting out of ideological motivations, and ideological motivations must never serve as a justification for acts that are clearly illegal.”

As May 1 approached, the impending demolitions threatened to topple Netanyahu’s coalition. With the scent of elections already wafting in the air, Cabinet ministers and rank-and-file Knesset members from Netanyahu’s Likud Party began staking out increasingly right-wing positions.

The Cabinet held a series of sessions regarding the removal of buildings in the West Bank built on private Palestinian land and set up a committee, headed by retired Justice Edmund Levy, to investigate the matter in depth. In late April, the government decided to authorize three outposts in the West Bank retroactively, drawing harsh criticism from the international community as well as the opposition in Israel.

In his April 27 letter to the court, the state attorney wrote that “the government is pursuing a new policy, by which decisions regarding structures built on land whose ownership is contested will be made on case-by-case merit … after giving due consideration to the broad social implications the implementation of these policies may have on future construction.”

Zacharia says the government “is undoing the rule of law.”

“It is reneging on its own promises and defying the ruling of the Supreme Court,” he told JTA. “Furthermore, it is ignoring the rights of private ownership, which are not only a cornerstone of democracy but are especially necessary in a situation like this because the Palestinians do not have the political clout to influence the government’s decisions.”

Not surprisingly, settlers welcomed the government’s move.

“We are Jewish patriots, and we have come here to live in the spirit of God’s promise to Jacob, that this will be our land,” Rosenbaum said. “We are also law-abiding citizens, and we are convinced that the government will find a way to prevent the demolitions, to prevent such a terrible moral and legal injustice.”

The situation remains unclear. As of Tuesday, the Supreme Court had not yet responded to the state’s letter of April 27. 

In a separate case involving two other illegal buildings in Beit El, the state asked for a 90-day extension to reconsider its options; the court granted a 60-day extension.

A military source, speaking with JTA on condition of anonymity, said the military is concerned that extremists among the settlers may “interpret the government’s actions and rejection of court-ordered demolitions as a green light for violent resistance. They may also step up the ‘price tag’ attacks,” the source said, referring to attacks by settlers against Palestinian property.

Thousands of structures that the government has promised the courts it will demolish are scattered throughout the West Bank, including the settlements of Givat Assaf, slated for demolition by July 1, and Amona, which is to be demolished by the end of the year.

In February 2006, the attempt by security forces to take over nine homes in Amona led to clashes in which more than 200 were hurt, including 80 members of the security forces.

“This is not merely a matter of legalities, or justice or private property or even rule of law,” said Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements. “Above all, it’s a matter of whether we should or should not have Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.”