For immediate release: July 29th, 2015
MK Betzalel Smotrich, formerly of Regavim, a legal advocacy organization in Israel, respectfully asks Senator Dianne Feinstein to respect Israeli rule of law and refrain from meddling in Israel’s well respected legal system.
MK Betzalel Smotrich (Bayit HaYehudi) and formerly Director of Operations of Regavim responded today to the letter Senator Dianne Feinstein ( D-Cal) sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 28, requesting him to urge the Civil Administration to “halt its efforts to demolish…the village of Susiya”, in Area C, because this would be “a step away from peace.” The Honorable Senator has been egregiously misinformed, MK Smotrich contends, both on the facts and on the law.
Those upon whom the Senator relied for the facts have failed to inform her that the Supreme Court of Israel has, after almost 15 years of hearings on this matter of this illegal encampment, issued a final ruling that the illegal buildings be demolished. Thus, her letter constitutes a request that Prime Minister Netanyahu overturn a final decision by the Supreme Court of Israel for political reasons.
In addition to significant factual and historical errors in her letter, beginning with her belief that this illegal encampment is a “village [that] has existed in the South Hebron Hills at least since the 1830’s” she is obviously unaware that, far from “good faith efforts” on the part of these residents, there is a long documented court record indicating cynical attempts to manipulate the legal system and continuous blatant violations of court orders throughout this process, which began in 2001. Israel’s High Court (HC rulings 7530/01, 430/12, 1556/12, 1420/14) found that the Nawajah’s family’s assertions were demonstrably false, based on comprehensive objective historical and geographical accounts.
Historical aerial photography, detailed mandatory maps, travelogues from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the population registry all established that their assertions were a fabrication. These Arab herders were found to have registered homes in nearby Yatta (a city in Area A under full control of the PA) and were in the area near the ancient Jewish Town of Susiya only seasonally whilst grazing their flocks.
The High Court in May 2015, specifically denied a request for an injunction against the demolition orders, despite the pending hearing, due to the continued illegal building by the appellants during the case itself, stating: “Taking the law into one’s own hands even after filing this petition precludes granting an injunction order.” (HCJ 1420/14)
Ari Briggs, Director of International Relations for Regavim, stated, “Senator Feinstein has clearly failed to inquire into the matter and has simply adopted the talking points of those who wish to undermine Israel and her highly respected legal system. Moreover, such disregard of the long history of illegal building and violation of Supreme Court orders encourages others to adopt this tactic, which does nothing to promote the rule of law and, ultimately, the peace we are all working towards.”
Would Senator Feinstein not think that a high-ranking Israeli lawmaker would be overstepping the line to call upon President Obama to overrule a Supreme Court decision on abortion or gay marriage or health care because he disagreed with the politics of that decision? And does Senator Feinstein believe that the President of the United States should have the power to defy a Supreme Court decision for political reasons? We think not, and look forward to Senator Feinstein’s reconsideration of her request.
Regavim, a research based legal advocacy organization, dedicated to ensuring responsible, legal and accountable use of Israel’s national land. For more information, visit www.regavim.org. For more information contact Ari Briggs at email@example.com