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The New Arab

Israeli justice minister calls for West Bank land court

The buildings in the settlement of Beit El were demolished on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 July, 2015

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The Israeli Justice Minister called for a new court to settle disputes over land in the West Bank to prevent the Supreme Court ordering the demolition of more settlement units.

The Israeli justice minister said Wednesday that it was urgent that a special court be established to rule on land-related issues in the occupied West Bank.

Ayelet Shaked's comment comes as the Israeli settler movement and its supporters in the Israeli government, including ministers of The Jewish Home Party and the Likud, protested the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to demolish houses built illegally on Palestinian land in the settlement of Beit El on the West Bank north of Jerusalem.

Israel announced plans to build 300 new houses in the settlement Wednesday, on the day the demolitions were carried out.

Shaked said she had established a legal taskforce to work on preventing the Supreme Court demolishing more Israeli houses on the West Bank.

"The system is broken," Shaked said on Thursday, according to the website Arutz Sheva. "The High Court does not accept evidence and arguments in these cases. Two lawyers for leftist group Yesh Din are able to set the agenda for the High Court, and turn it into a leftist agenda."

She told the website she had established a legal taskforce to work on preventing the Supreme Court demolishing more Israeli houses on the West Bank.

However, she stressed that the Supreme Court's ruling must be respected.

She stressed that she would be pushing for the end of the de facto settlement freeze in the West Bank and further settlement building in the territory, Arutz Sheva reported.

She revealed in an interview with the Israeli news website Yediot Aharonoth that the previous government had previously begun working on setting up a system to settle disputes over land in the occupied west bank.

The Supreme Court has ruled over issues related to land since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, and has approved the confiscation of land for security reasons, based on the argument that the control of land is important for Israel's security.

Opposition to the Supreme Court ruling

Opposition to the demolition peaked yesterday when a member of the Knesset from The Jewish Homeland Party, part of the governing coalition, Moti Yogev, called for a bulldozer to level the Israeli Supreme Court instead of the buildings in Beit El.

Yogev subsequently retracted his comment in the wake of the extensive press coverage it received, telling Israel Radio that his comment was unnecessary and that it was possible he shouldn't have made it, according to The Times of Israel.

He called for the Israeli government to sidestep this decision to destroy the buildings, first issued five years ago, by issuing a permit legalising the building with retrospective effect.

In addition to the 300 new housing units approved in Beit El, already home to more than 6,000 settlers, 413 other housing units were also approved in occupied East Jerusalem.

Writing in Yediot Aharonoth, Nahum Barnea said that despite the protests, the Israeli Supreme Court was a strong ally of the settler movement, because when it ruled that two houses in a settlement were illegal, it implicitly acknowledged the other houses in the same settlement were legal.

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