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Rule of Law Wins (for now) in the Case of Another Outpost (Ulpana)

As we reported earlier, on April 27th Israeli government announced its intention to once again flout Israeli law in order to protect another illegal settler outpost -- "Givat Ha'Ulpana" (aka Jabel Artis).  This outpost is located deep inside the West Bank, near Ramallah, and far to the east of Israel's "separation barrier."  The Israeli government had previously promised the Israeli High Court of Justice that it would remove the illegal construction at this site by May 1, 2012, but as that deadline approached, last month the State told the court that it had changed its mind and asked for more time to find a way to "legalize" the illegal construction.

The Supreme Court, however, apparently has not changed its mind on the question of whether rule of law applies to outposts.  On May 6th, that court of rejected the State's request to postpone Ulpana's eviction.  The Court ruled, instead, that the demolition must be carried out by July 1st.  The full court ruling is available here (Hebrew only).

The new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (picked by the political right), Asher Grunis, wrote:  "Precisely when matters reach the High Court of Justice, there is particular importance in the state keepings its promises.  An acceptance of the state's position, that its wish to reexamine its policy is grounds to reopen a procedure that is completed, would have terrible results.  Will the state ask to reopen proceedings that ended with a ruling every time it reexamines some policy?!"  Grunis also wrote: "What ... would be the reason for providing the exceptional remedy of reopening a legal proceeding... in which the state has committed to act in a certain fashion?!"

It is worth noting that the use of this kind of extremely emphatic punctuation is unusual, if not unprecedented, for the Israeli Supreme Court.

Yesterday APN's Ori Nir interview Michal Sfard, the Israeli lawyer who took the Ulpana case to the Supreme Court.  You can hear his comments about the case here (the interview took place a few hours before the Supreme Court's decision was announced).

The Israeli Peace Now movement commented: "We expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to announce publically that he will implement the rulings of the court and evict the Ulpana and Migron outposts this summer. Those court decisions are a watershed from which the character of the State of Israel would be defined: either a democratic state or the settlers' state..."

Now it just remains to be seen if the Netanyahu government will seek other ways to circumvent the court's ruling and the rule of law for the benefit of settlers and settler law-breakers.  Already there has been talk of legislative initiatives in the Knesset to overrule the Supreme Court on this case or, in a more general sense, to deprive the court of the power to decide such cases.  The residents of the outpost have stated that they will not negotiate with the government over their fate.