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Israeli Supreme Court: State Must Defend why Settlement Expansion Near Bil’in Should not be Demolished

On the 21st of March the Israeli State and other parties were ordered to respond to a petition filed by Peace Now and head of the Council of Bil’in.

Defendants must convince the Court that construction plans for the illegal Matityahu East settlement should not be annulled. They must also explain why demolition orders should not be issued and a criminal investigation opened against those involved.

Judges wrote, “the State should refer, in its response among others, to the question whether a criminal investigation in the issue concerned was started, and how the State intends to act in this context.” The respondents were given 30 days to file their responses.

Bil’in villagers have waged an extensive media campaign to publicize Israel’s activity. The court order was made following a March 15 hearing of the petition (HCJ 143/06) against the expansion of the Matityahu outpost on village land west of the annexation wall. The Court also maintained the injunction forbidding further building in the compound and preventing new residents from moving in.

In a separate order issued by the Supreme Court on the 20th of March the military was denied the authority to implement a confiscation order of Bil’in land in order to build a military installation on the proposed wall route. To read the decisions in Hebrew go to: www.court.gov.il and enter file numbers: 143/06 and 8414/05

The Israeli Civil Administration has admitted that, according to Israeli law, illegal construction has been taking place on a massive scale. The administration also said it helps launder Palestinian land by declaring it state property then transferring it to private hands.

In Bili’n for example, attorney Moshe Glick signed in place of the village Muhktar (head), testifying that a resident’s land was paid for by settlers. Mr. Glick argued that the decision was justified because he claimed “any Jew entering Bil’in will be killed.” He also said a military order forbidding Israelis from entering Area “B” made it impossible to obtain the Muhktar’s signature. Both statements are false, yet the Civil Administration maintains the supposed land sale was legitimate.

Bil’in villagers have been protesting the theft of their land by the annexation barrier for over one year. The protests have become a prominent symbol of Palestinian non-violent resistance and joint struggle with Israeli and international activists. The Wall is planned along a route only meters away from the closest home in Bil’in. However it runs 700 meters away from the expanding illegal settlement, annexing over sixty percent of villagers’ agricultural land.

For more information:
Attorney Michael Sfard- 0544713930
Mohammed Khatib 054-5851893,
Dror Etkes (Settlement Watch, Peace Now) -0544899351,025660648,
ISM Media Office 02-2971824