Sheftel: State Failed in Ulpana’s Case

Attorney Yoram Sheftel says that the State has failed in the way it dealt with the Ulpana neighborhood.

By Elad Benari (INN)  May/11/2012

Yoram Sheftel

Yoram Sheftel
Flash 90

Attorney Yoram Sheftel said on Thursday that the State has failed in the way it dealt with the case of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and expressed pessimism that the government would be able to produce legislation that would prevent the demolition of the neighborhood.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the state’s petition to postpone the destruction of five buildings in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood until July 1. The Attorney General had asked for a three-month extension in order for the government to find a way to legalize the buildings.

“The criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision should be directed at the prosecution and not at the Court,” Sheftel told Arutz Sheva. “The prosecution repeatedly told the Court that the State agrees to destroy half the Ulpana neighborhood. The proceeding goes on for a year and a half and the State announces that it agrees to the demolition. So what do you expect the Court to do when its judgment has been given on the basis of the prosecution’s statement?”

He added that the government is the one that abandoned the people of Beit El and left them in the hands of the prosecution.

“The prosecution represented the State on its own without asking the State’s opinion on the matter,” he said. “The prosecution stated that government policy is to demolish homes. It did so without good faith, because the State never agreed to that, this is deception by the prosecution. The prosecution is an independent body that does whatever it pleases, without any supervision. It has absolute power which makes it corrupt. It deliberately manipulated the situation in order to reach this scenario.”

Sheftel added, “Now the government woke up but it’s too late because nothing can legally be done. The ruling on the Ulpana neighborhood is final. All this happened because our country, for all intents and purposes, is poorly and miserably run. The government is dysfunctional. Why is it that throughout the entire period when the prosecution informed the Court that the State agrees to demolish the homes, no one from the government stood up? Now, when the knife is held up against the throat they shout, but it’s too late.”

“They are talking about legislation, but it will be far from simple though not impossible,” said Sheftel. “This requires special legislation that will be applicable in Judea and Samaria and directed at the police and the army, prohibiting them to carry out demolitions of houses which have been lived in for X amount of time. This legislative process is not simple, though it is eminently doable.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will convene a special committee on Friday to discuss potential ways to avert the destruction of five homes in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood.

The committee will include Netanyahu, newly minted Vice Premier and Minister Without Portfolio Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon and Minister Benny Begin.

Senior officials from the IDF Civil Administration have been asked to attend the meeting as well.

Netanyahu is said to be mulling two options: ordering an administrative seizure of the land the houses sit on by the IDF, or legislation.

Several senior ministers in the coalition have pushed for legislation that would mandate financial compensation or alternative land grants in lieu of eviction and demolition in cases where a court determines a claim to the land is valid.

However, the Supreme Court has ruled Israeli law does not apply in Judea and Samaria, which has never been annexed and remains under military rule.