Photo Credit: Regavim
The Armon HaNetziv compound's illegal construction plan

Justice Oded Shaham requires the State to apprise the Jerusalem District Court, within three months, of the results of diplomatic contacts with the United Nations regarding its illegal construction in the Armon HaNatziv compound.

Justice Oded Shaham of the Jerusalem District Court denied the State’s request to reject Regavim’s petition.

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According to the Regavim movement, a leaked internal building tender issued by the United Nations has revealed despite an announced agreement between Prime Minister Netanyahu and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres claiming all future UN construction would be carried out in accordance with the principles of Israel’s Planning and Building Code, the UN has begun preparations for a new illegal construction project in the Armon HaNatziv (High Commissioner’s Palace) compound in Jerusalem.

Attorney Cheli Lasser, argued for the State in Court that diplomatic talks with the UN take time. Furthermore, she argued, the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by the UN renders Regavim’s petition unnecessary.

“The State must be allowed to proceed, as long as it takes responsibility and remains proactive,” Lasser said. “It is not reasonable that an NGO should be looking over the State’s shoulder, as it were.”

The Regavim Movement presented to the Court a copy of a recently-discovered building tender issued by the UN for an additional construction project that has not been cleared or coordinated with the Government.

This tender was issued at the same time the State announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu and UN Secretary General Guterres had agreed to institute a system of coordination, consistent with the principles of Israel’s Planning and Building Code.

The State’s representative admitted, in response to Justice Shaham’s question, that the State had not, in fact, been given advance notification of the UN’s new building plans.

Overruling the State’s objections, Justice Shaham ordered that Regavim’s petition remain pending, and stipulated that future deliberations may include the question of the State’s authority to enforce Israeli law in the UN compound.

Justice Shaham accepted Regavim’s position, and required the State to apprise the Court of the results of the diplomatic negotiations with the UN on this matter no later than February 2018, because, in the words of Justice Shaham, “these matters may have implications for the disposition of the larger issues at hand.”

Regavim welcomed the Court’s decision. “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to require the State to clarify precisely how it intends to enforce the law at the UN compound, and to clarify whether the diplomatic efforts have had actual results,” said Attorney Avi Segal following the hearing.

“Additionally, the issue of the UN’s encroachment and seizure of some 30 dunams of State land, adjacent to the area allotted to the UN by the State of Israel, will be raised in a separate hearing.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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