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The High Court of Justice is scheduled to hear three consolidated cases filed by the Regavim Movement against the Ministry of Defense and the Civil Administration on Monday regarding three separate instances of illegal construction and de facto annexation by the Palestinian Authority and its local authorities.
In each of the three case, pro-judea & Samaria NGO Regavim filed a petition to the High Court which seeks to compel the Civil Administration to execute military legislation known as “The Order for Removal of New Structures,” an enforcement tool created by the defense establishment in 2018. The ‘New Structures Order” was designed to cut through the legal and bureaucratic red tape that characterizes “standard procedures” in Judea and Samaria, where outdated Jordanian planning and construction codes remain in force. The antiquated, ineffective and labyrinthine Jordanian regulations have been famously exploited by construction offenders and the Palestinian Authority in what is known as “lawfare:” incessant legal and procedural appeals that upend law enforcement and set the system against itself – with the support and funding of foreign interests.
Over the past two years, Regavim filed a number of administrative petitions to the Jerusalem District Court (which serves as the Court for Administrative Affairs), to compel the Ministry of Defense and the Civil Administration to enforce the “Order for Removal of News Structures.” In response to these petitions, the state’s representatives argued that this order does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court, and should be heard in the High Court of Justice (HCJ).
But when Regavim petitioned the HCJ regarding enforcement of the “New Structures Order” – the state argued that the petitions should be dismissed out of hand because an alternative legal remedy is available – namely, “standard procedural orders” arising from the Planning and Building Code; even though these alternative legal remedies have not been enforced, the state argued, the proper forum for hearing these cases is… The District Court.
“The long and short of it is that the government’s enforcement arm is trying to dodge any and all cases involving its failure to issue or enforce the New Structures Order, whether in the District Court or in the High Court of Justice,” Rgavim said in a statement.
Attorney Avi Segal, who will be speaking for Regavim at tomorrow’s HCJ hearing, explains: “At issue is a broader question that goes beyond the individual cases: the government is shirking its responsibility to enforce the law. This is a deliberate attempt to create a legal “Catch 22” that will neuter the law and empty it of all meaning, while at the same time limiting the public’s ability to scrutinize and evaluate the state’s continued inaction before a court of law – whatever court that may be. We expect the HCJ to hand down a decision regarding judicial jurisdiction, while at the same time issuing a substantive statement regarding the government’s behavior in this matter.”
The HCJ hearing will convene on Tuesday at 11:30 am before Justice Anat Baron, Yael Vilner and Ofer Grosskopf.