Monday, November 30, 2009

Legal Appeal Against Freeze: 'Gov’t Didn’t Approve It'

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). The appellants say the mini-security Cabinet has no right to enforce a blanket freeze on construction without receiving a full Cabinet decision. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hurriedly convened his 15-member security cabinet last week, and rushed through an 11-1 vote in favor of the 10-month freeze. The two Shas ministers, opposing the decision, refused to take part in the vote – they walked out and did not vote against – and Minister Silvan Shalom, who later strongly opposed the decision, was abroad at the time. Only Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau voted against.

The other members – Prime Minister Netanyahu and fellow Likud party Ministers Ne’eman, Yaalon, Meridor, Steinitz, Saar, and Begin; Ministers Lieberman and Aharonovitz of Israel Our Home; and Barak and Ben-Eliezer of Labor – voted in favor of the freeze.

The Legal Forum says the decision has no standing without full Cabinet approval. Netanyahu did not bring the matter to a vote at the this week's Cabinet session Sunday, nor does he intend to – unless the Supreme Court forces him.

“A non-security related decision that involves such a grave blow at the property rights of so many people may not be made so secretly with no prior warning and with no possibility for Cabinet members to appeal it,” Attorney Yossi Fuchs of the Forum explained. “The mini-Cabinet did not even claim that this was a security decision, but rather stated vaguely that its purpose is to encourage the renewal of talks with the PA…”

Fuchs also noted that, despite objections by Cabinet ministers, the matter was not brought before the full government. It was noted that Minister Landau announced that he would work to force the Cabinet to discuss the matter, and that Minister Shalom had strong criticism of the decision.

The Forum demands that the construction freeze be itself frozen: “Residents of Yesha have been harmed as of the moment that the decree was signed, but the government will lose nothing if it simply waits until after a government decision before proceeding with the freeze.

“This is not an urgent matter,” Fuchs continued. “It is not related to any agreement with the Palestinian Authority, which has even announced that it does not accept the freeze because it does not include Jerusalem. There is therefore no need to relate to it as a ticking time-bomb.”

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