Dozens of illegal structures in the Negev remain standing despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that the local Planning and Building Committee should demolish them, Regavim reported Monday.
In 2009, Regavim petitioned the Be’er Sheva District Court to demolish dozens of illegal structures in the Abu Basma Regional Council – which has since split into two separate councils in an attempt to improve services for local residents.
The Be’er Sheva District Court accepted the petition and ordered the demolition of all the illegal structures within a year.
In response, the Bedouin planning committee filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which placed an injunction on the one-year time limit. But in a 2013 ruling, four years later, the supreme court determined that enforcement measures should be taken against those illegal structures, and criticized harshly the committee’s conduct.
The Attorney General issued a note regarding the appeal proceedings, stating it joined the condemnation of the near-total absence of enforcement on the part of the local council, and offered “state aid” in implementing a reasonable enforcement policy as required.
The supreme court justices wrote in their 2013 ruling that “the picture that was revealed is of under-enforcement over a long period of time, which, in fact, allows for many violations of planning and building laws.”
“At the same time,” the justices noted, “it is clear that in light of the limited resources available to the appellants, they could not act in a comprehensive and ongoing manner against the violations. [Therefore] the central government authorities should have provided appropriate assistance to the appellants, but this has not been done.”
The ruling further stated that the committee must carry out enforcement actions and reduce the phenomenon of illegal construction within its boundaries.
It’s been six years since that Supreme Court decision, and the vast majority of the buildings which were in the initial stages of construction back then not only were they not demolished, but have been populated and then expanded, while additional illegal construction is rampant within the council’s boundaries.
Last week, Regavim sent a letter to the Attorney General and the State Comptroller, demanding that they examine the issue and take over the authority of the committee which has failed in its role of enforcing the law. In the letter, attorney Boaz Arazi noted that an examination conducted by Regavim had revealed that, with the exception of two structures, the dozens of structures discussed in the previous petition are still standing and have since been populated, even though they remain illegal.
“This story illustrates the council’s unwillingness to enforce the law in its territory, as we explicitly told the court in the previous proceeding,” said Amichai Yogev, director of operations for the Regavim movement in Israel’s south.
“This is a bleak situation that could not exist in any other local municipality in the State of Israel, certainly not after a clear ruling by the Supreme Court,” Yogev said.