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Articles on Peace Now's call to raze 15 illegal structures in Kiryat Netafim settlement"

Peace Now says court's intervention required before buildings become 'another testament to demise of rule of law as it applies to Israeli population in West Bank'

READ Articles from Ynet & The Jerusalem Post,7340,L-3768031,00.html

Ynet: "Petition: Raze 15 structures in Kiryat Netafim settlement"

Peace Now says court's intervention required before buildings become 'another testament to demise of rule of law as it applies to Israeli population in West Bank'

by Aviad Glickman Published:     08.27.09

The Peace Now movement filed a petition with the High Court of Justice  Thursday against Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Southern Command  Chief MaJ.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, demanding that they halt the construction of 15 permanent structures in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim.

The petition calls on Barak and Shamni to issue orders to demolish the buildings.

According to the petition, the structures are being built illegally on public land and private land owned by Palestinians.

"As in any case that pertains to illegal Israeli construction in the  West Bank, here too the presence of the law enforcement agencies is not felt," the petition read.

Peace Now said it filed the petition after realizing that without the court's intervention the structures will be inhabited and "become yet another testament to the demise of the rule of law as it applies to the  Israeli population in the West Bank."

Jerusalem Post: "Peace Now petitions against K. Netafim"

Aug. 27, 2009

Tovah Lazaroff and staff

Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday to order the state to stop the construction of 15 permanent structures in the Samaria settlement of Kiryat Netafim.

The left-wing organization said that the structures were erected on state-owned as well as on private Palestinian land.

The petition was directed at the Samaria Regional Council and the settlers themselves, as well as at Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the IDF, the Israel Police and the Civil Administration.

"We demand that immediate steps with all required actions be taken to prevent the buildings from being populated by anyone, and to stop any construction and use of the structures," read the petition. The movement further asked the court not to allow any services to be provided for the buildings, including water and electricity.

It also asked for a conditional injunction to be issued to force settlers leaders to respond as to why those responsible for the "illegal construction" should not stand trial.

"Just like all in all other cases of illegal West Bank building by Israelis, in this case, law enforcement is absent," said Peace Now.

Meanwhile, the Binyamin Regional Council on Wednesday night finally made good on its deal with the IDF to voluntarily remove three caravans from the Bnei Adam outpost in the Binyamin region, which is home to eight families and four singles.

The three families that lived in the caravans moved with their mobile homes to nearby Kohav Ya'akov.

The families agreed reluctantly over the weekend to allow the caravans' removal, only after Amana - Gush Emunim's settlement arm, which owns the caravans - threatened to sue the families if they did not.

Amana also threatened to cut off electricity to the outpost.

The outpost's decision to abide by the council deal marked the end of two weeks of debate in which the families changed their minds numerous times regarding the deal.

Twice, right-wing activists led by former Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss flocked to the hilltop to help the residents protect the caravans, and twice they withdrew.

Built in 2004, down a dirt road that runs out the back of the Adam settlement, the small hilltop community of 10 structures was one of 26 outposts built after March 2001 which Israel has promised the US it would remove.

In recent months the IDF has cracked down on new illegal construction both in the outposts and in settlements.

On August 10, it made a surprise raid on the Adam outpost to remove the three caravans, which had been placed there only three months before.

Security forces withdrew only after Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro'eh promised that he would take down the outposts.

Ro'eh told The Jerusalem Post that he intends to honors his pledge to the IDF within the coming days.

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Jerusalem Post: "'Illegal' homes up for sale in Samaria"

Aug. 28, 2009


It's hard to miss the new construction in the Kiryat Netafim settlement in Samaria.

Billboards touting attractive single-family homes for sale jut off the sides of the roads leading to the settlement, starting on Route 5 and ending within the boundaries of the religious hilltop community, which is home to some 470 people.

Here, 10.7 km. over the Green Line, one can see the outline of Tel Aviv's skyscrapers. Men were busy Thursday working on 14 new two-story yellow stucco homes. They are the last phase of a 30-home project that was begun a number of years ago.

Last week, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria posted stop-work orders at the construction site, claiming that the homes are illegal. On Thursday, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice to enforce the order.

It's the second such petition to the court this month. On August 13, Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights petitioned against 12 modular homes in the Kochav Ya'acov settlement, which it claimed had been illegally placed there.

The petitions come at a time when the diplomatic community is increasing its pressure against Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, US special envoy George Mitchell met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to press him to freeze new construction projects in the settlements.

Some 2,500 legal Jewish homes are now being built in Judea and Samaria, and more are being built illegally.

But as he sat in the kitchen of a neighbor's caravan in Kiryat Netafim, community spokesman Motti Ovadia said he thought the gathering international storm against settlement construction would pass.

"I don't believe they will freeze these buildings," said Ovadia, who, with his wife and small son, moved to a new home in the settlement last year from Ramat Gan.

Their homes were safe from a construction freeze, he said, because they were within the Ariel settlement bloc.

And even if that assumption turned out to be wrong, by the time any kind of a freeze would be announced, the homes would be finished and families would have moved in, he said.

Ovadia, like others in Kiryat Netafim, were more concerned about the Peace Now petition, which claims the homes lack the proper approval and that they are being partially built on private Palestinian land.

Peace Now said it had first learned of the project in March and since then construction had proceeded at breakneck speed.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said her organization had sent a number of letters to the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria asking it to act against the homes. When no action was taken, she said, Peace Now felt there was no choice but to turn to the court.

The civil administration said it had issued a stop-work order at the site and that it planned to return with more enforcement orders.

But Ovadia denied the allegations of illegality. He said that both sides would have a chance to prove their claims in court and that he was certain that the facts would show the project was legal. It has gotten all the necessary approvals on the local levels, he said.

All the maps speak to the fact that it is legal to build here, Ovadia added.

Kiryat Netafim is very careful not to build on any land whose status is questionable, he said. It called off plans to build one of the homes when it understood that it would be on land that might be Palestinian-owned.

Ovadia had harsh words for Peace Now, saying it was funded by European governments to promote a foreign policy agenda by disseminating lies.

The settlement was considering filing a countersuit against Peace Now for slander, he said.

Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said, "This is building on an area earmarked for such in the town's master plan that was established 30 years ago.

"The houses are on town property and are not on Arab lands at all," he said. "This is our historic homeland and we have every moral and legal right to live and grow here."

But Mesika admitted that the project lacked the final signature from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, though he added that most of the homes in Israel had been built this way.

In a situation where only a single final signature is needed for a project that was initially approved years ago, it is obvious that the decision to withhold it is political and not based on legal issues, Mesika said.

In the Binyamin region on Thursday, residents of the Bnei Adam outpost lost their battle with the civil administration over three modular homes which the administration had said were illegally placed there three months ago.

The regional council honored its agreement with the civil administration and removed the homes. The three families who lived in them were allowed to remain at the outpost and have since pitched tents, according to the Binyamin Citizens Committee.

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