The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected the request of residents of the Netiv HaAvot neighborhood in the Gush Etzion Regional Council and ordered the demolition of all the neighborhood homes.
Netiv HaAvot is an expansion of Elazar, an Israeli settlement of some 35 families in the Judaean Hills, 10 miles south of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion cluster of settlements. According to leftwing NGOs, Netiv HaAvot was built on privately owned Arab agricultural land, which local Arab villagers say they owned and worked until military curfews and closures in the wake of the 2000 Intifada forced them to abandon it. In 2005, the Sharon government’s settlement killer Talia Sasson included Netiv HaAvot among 105 illegal outposts listed for demolition by the Sasson Report, noting that Israel’s Ministry of Housing and Construction had by that date spent $86,000 to develop the neighborhood.
The State, after claiming for five years that Netiv HaAvot was slated for demolition, in 2010 reversed its position, thus inviting a succession of High Court petitions from the likes of Peace Now. In early 2013, the Netanyahu government published the results of a land survey declaring part of the area to be state-owned land. In August 2016, the High Court of Justice ordered the evacuation of 17 houses that are fully or partially outside the declared state-owned land area.
On Sunday, the court ruled on a petition of the residents, asking to remove six homes from the demolition list. The court not only rejected the appeal, but criticized the very idea of submitting it. Court President Justice Miriam Naor, for whom this could be her last ruling against the settlement movement—on the eve of her retirement, suggested the petition was yet another attempt on the part of the Jewish residents to play for time.
Shlomo Neeman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said in response that “until this evening, the homes of Netiv HaAvot were divided into those that the justice machine had trampled on completely, and those which were only afflicted by the leprosy of legal vanity. But as of this evening, the High Court has ruled that there is no room for division between these two types of homes.”
Neeman added, “We have learned from the court that to us only one division is relevant: the division between truth and falsehood. Between the truth of our right to follow the path of our forefathers to the falsehood of the cold law that’s alien to this fundamental right.”
“The High Court of Justice today issued not the verdict of these homes, but rather its own verdict, testifying against itself as the high court of injustice,” the regional council head said.