Jewishupdates's Blog

January 14, 2010

A7News: New High Court Judge Hendel Rules in Favor of Talmon Housing

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 2:43 pm

logo.jpgTevet 28, 5770 / Thursday, Jan. 14 ’10

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Headlines

  1. New High Court Judge Hendel Rules in Favor of Talmon Housing
  2. Ayalon Apologizes to Turkish Ambassador
  3. State Rethinking Demolition of Fallen War Hero Roi Klein’s Home
  4. PA Arabs Try to Knock Israeli Car off Highway 443
  5. Nine Months in Jail for Anti-Israel Sheikh
  6. Jewish Woman Flees Gaza with 4 Children
  7. Soldiers Who Held Protest Sign Booted from Hesder
  8. Hevron’s Jews Confident in Legal Struggle for ‘Peace House’

1. New High Court Judge Hendel Rules in Favor of Talmon Housing

by Gil Ronen

Supreme Court Judge Neil Hendel struck down on Wednesday a request to issue a restraining order against construction of a new neighborhood in the community of Talmon, in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria.

The village of Al Rania and the leftist NGOs Yesh Din and Bimkom had asked the court to order a stop to all actions based on the zoning plan for the HaBrecha neighborhood, including the construction of a school and preparation for residential housing. The Regional Council Binyamin and the community of Talmon, represented by Attorney Akiva Sylvetsky, opposed the motion.

Judge Hendel ruled in favor of the defendants and decided not to issue any restraining order against construction at Givat HaBrecha.

Hendel’s First Ruling on Judea and Samaria
Legal sources noted that this was Judge Hendel’s first ruling on a matter connected with Judea and Samaria, and that it marks a departure from the judicial line favored by the High Court for years. Until now, the sources said, restraining orders against Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria were issued almost automatically at the request of leftist NGOs.

Judge Hendel was recently appointed to the nation’s highest court as part of a compromise between Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and nationalist representatives in the Judge Selection Committee.

The leftist NGOs claimed in their motion that Zoning Plan 253/3, which was approved several weeks ago, prevents local Arabs from accessing their land. They also said that the builders would benefit illegally from the approval of their plans.

Political Motivation
Attorney Sylvetsky replied that it was common practice to grant zoning plans retroactively for construction that had been carried out without advance approval. Such approvals, he said, were granted in various locations in Israel, including Judea and Samaria and areas populated by Bedouins and other Arabs. In those cases, he said, no one filed court motions to try and stop the approval, and this shows that the request before the court was politically motivated. The attorney also argued that the question of Arabs’ access to their land was not connected to the new construction plan, and that the Arabs could reach their land if they received security clearance.

The State Prosecution opposed the restraining order regarding the zoning plan, but agreed to the idea that the court would issue an order against the Regional Council and the community, freezing any further construction. Judge Hendel refused to grant even that order.

HaBrecha neighborhood is planned to have 300 houses and a school. Nearly 60 houses are already built.

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2. Ayalon Apologizes to Turkish Ambassador

by Malkah Fleisher

After a diplomatic standoff sparked by stage directions given by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister at a pre-meeting photo opportunity with Turkey’s Ambassador to Israel, the Deputy Foreign Minister issued an official apology to Turkey on Wednesday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the apology, saying "We have received the answer that we had been waiting for."

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had summoned Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol on Monday to complain about Turkish TV show "The Valley of the Wolves", which depicts Israeli security forces stealing babies and shooting elderly men.

During the meeting, Celikkol was made to sit on a low couch opposite Ayalon on a higher chair. Ayalon explained to press cameramen present at the start of the meeting – in Hebrew – that this arrangement was intentional. He did not shake the hand of the ambassador in front of the cameras, and only the Israeli flag was represented on the table between them. Videotape shot in such pre-meeting sessions is usually broadcast as a background visual in news reports.

Only after the meeting – and after Israeli press repeatedly broadcast Ayalon’s words to the cameramen – did the Turks feel that they had been slighted. Outraged, Turkey threatened to recall the ambassador as a result of the treatment. After a day of deliberation in Israel, a letter of apology was issued by the Foreign Ministry and delivered to Turkish officials in Ankara.

Prior to this letter, Ayalon issued a statement Wednesday calling his own behavior undiplomatic, but did not use words of apology. Turkey rejected the gesture, threatening to recall its ambassador if a formal apology was not issued.

Contrition
The letter of contrition stressed Ayalon’s interest in diplomacy which is "open, reciprocal, and respectful," adding "I had no intention to humiliate you personally and apologize for the way the démarche was handled and perceived. Please convey this to the Turkish people, for whom we have great respect."

In a separate attempt at reconciliation, 17 Israeli Knesset members signed a letter to the ambassador, expressing regret over Ayalon’s actions..

While Turkey and Israel have a history of relatively close ties, Erdogan has distanced himself and his country from Israel since Operation Cast Lead a year ago. Days after the counter-terror operation, Erdogan refused to share a stage with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, grumbling "you kill people." He recently accused Israel of threatening world peace. Turkey also canceled Israel’s participation in a high-profile military exercise last fall.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said initially that he supports Ayalon’s protest, but not the "inappropriate style" of the meeting. Netanyahu’s office expressed concern over the increasing cooling of relations between the countries.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in a meeting with the foreign minister of Cyprus, told his counterpart, "We have always respected and appreciated Turkey and the Turkish people. That is why we expect reciprocity in the attitude towards us," he said. "We expect Israel to be treated with respect and appreciation. We shall not tolerate anti-Semitic remarks or Jewish libels."

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3. State Rethinking Demolition of Fallen War Hero Roi Klein’s Home

by Gil Ronen

The state is rethinking its long-held position regarding the demolition of 18 homes in the Binyamin region, including the home of fallen war hero Maj. Roi Klein.

The Ministry of Defense, the Commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, the Head of the Civil Administration and the Commander of Judea and Samaria District police seemed to backtrack this week on their earlier position in the High Court case involving 12 houses in the HaYovel neighborhood of Eli, including the home Maj. Klein’s family, and six houses in Haresha in Binyamin.

Represented by attorney Gilad Shirman, the state said it was “examining alternatives” to demolition of the homes “in order to resolve the issue."

"With regard to Haresha,” it said, “the state intends to examine and determine whether the land is privately- or state-owned before making a final decision on whether or not to implement the demolition orders. With regard to HaYovel, the state intends to conduct an examination and determine what are the boundaries of the state land in the area before making a final decision."

The case has been in court since 2005, when Peace Now petitioned the High Court to order the state to implement demolition orders that had been issued against the 18 homes. The state did not deny that the houses were illegal, but asked to be allowed to carry out the orders according to its own scheduled priorities. The latest announcement by the state appears to show that it is rethinking the longstanding demolition orders.

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4. PA Arabs Try to Knock Israeli Car off Highway 443

by Hillel Fendel

The decision to allow PA Arabs onto Route 443 to Jerusalem has not yet been implemented, and Arabs tried this morning to murder Jews there. They tried to run an Israeli car off the highway, but were unsuccessful – and soon arrested.

The incident occurred on Thursday morning on Route 443 between Jerusalem and Modiin. An Arab-driven car drove aside an Israeli car, which unbeknownst to the Arabs was being driven by a Border Guard policeman. The Arab car attempted to push the other car off the road, but he managed to evade them and then took the offensive, ordering them to stop.

The Arabs stopped shortly afterwards about 15 meters away from the Jewish car – and began attacking him with rocks. The policeman, realizing that his life was in danger, pulled out his gun and fired twice in the air. The Arab attackers then jumped back into their car and quickly drove off – but were stopped at a nearby junction outside both Ramallah and the Ofer Prison, where they were arrested.

The well-traveled highway was closed to Palestinian Authority cars in 2000 during a wave of terrorist attacks. Though a parallel road was built alongside a large part of it for Arab travel, local Arabs petitioned the Supreme Court in 2007 to be able to use the highway. The Court ruled last month that they were in the right, and ordered the army to find ways to ensure both Jewish security and Arab travel rights within five months.

Some PA Arabs are equipped with various permits allowing them to use the highway even now.

A request by MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) for a re-hearing on the issue by the Supreme Court has been turned down by the Attorney General’s office. However, the Israel Law Center is planning to file a class action suit against the decision, and MKs have said they will introduce special legislation to enable the road to be closed to PA traffic.

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5. Nine Months in Jail for Anti-Israel Sheikh

by Hillel Fendel

Sheikh Raad Salah’s actions in leading a stormy and violent rally outside the Temple Mount, including cursing and spitting at a policeman, show scorn for Israel and its laws, according to a ruling by Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Yitchak Shimoni.

Judge Shimoni sentenced Salah on Wednesday to nine months in prison for the above incident, and ordered him to pay policeman Yigal Zinger 7,500 shekels in compensation.

The incident occurred in February 2007 between the Temple Mount and Dung Gate in the Old City, when some 30 Arabs arrived to protest Israeli construction work there. At one point, the policemen lined up in order to prevent the angry mob from attempting to enter the construction site. Amidst the pushing, shoving and cursing, Sheikh Salah – the leader of the radical anti-Israel Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement – walked up to policeman Zinger, spat at him and yelled, ‘You are racists and murderers!”

Insulting the state
Judge Shimoni said that Salah’s actions were worse than they appeared: “The accused spat in the policeman’s face as a way of showing his contempt for the policemen… His intention, as he said himself, was to insult not only that policeman, but also everything that he represents – the law and the State of Israel itself, which he considers the true criminal… He was the leader and dominant factor at the disturbance, and he fired up the other participants… It is clear that, because of the site’s importance, he knew the great potential for the incident to turn into something big… His behavior during the trial, including his laughter as the policeman described the attack, prove the derision he has for the law represented by the policeman, and the apathy he feels regarding his actions and their ramifications.”

“The accused is not an anonymous person,” the judge ruled, “but rather a man of religion, a leader in his community and in the eyes of many who follow him. He is a role model for his supporters… In addition, this is not his first conviction. His lawyers claimed that some of his previous convictions have been erased and should not be considered – but his conviction in the District Court in January 2005 was for serious crimes, rendering their request irrelevant.”

Sheikh Salah has served prison time more than once on charges of contacts with enemy agents, incitement, attacking police officers, and the like.

Just last month, Salah was forbidden from entering Jerusalem for a period of three weeks, by order of Northern District IDF Commander Gen. Yair Golan. "Salah’s activities and statements over the years regarding Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have frequently caused tensions and even violence," an IDF official explained at the time. "The courts have ruled that his activities added to the outburst of violent incidents."

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6. Jewish Woman Flees Gaza with 4 Children

by Hana Levi Julian

"Where are you?" demanded the brother-in-law of 29-year-old Oshrit Ohana suspiciously, just seconds before the taxi in which she and her children were racing to the Gaza security barrier managed to reach the Erez border crossing terminal. "Return home immediately!"

Mahmoud, age 7, Sali, age 6, Abdel Rahman, 5 and Asma, almost 2 years old, had accompanied their mother in a desperate bid for freedom after she had quietly decided months earlier to leave her Arab husband behind.

The children had no idea, of course. They thought they were going shopping, which is what Ohana had told her husband’s brother. He had been watching her carefully for weeks and had already threatened to kill her if she tried to run away. His brother Abdullah, Ohana’s husband, was sitting in an Egyptian jail.

The young woman, originally a resident of Ashdod, had met Abdullah through friends in the city. She married her Muslim boyfriend and soon after, the two moved to Gaza seven years ago. Abdullah was not wealthy, and ended up working for smugglers in the tunnels underneath the border city of Rafiah between Gaza and Egypt. Eventually, she decided it had to end, but it took years to figure out how. Her chance to leave came finally after Abdullah was arrested in Egypt.

Dressed in her hijab – the traditional Muslim woman’s head covering – she told her brother-in-law she was escorting her sister-in-law to school before going shopping, and would later return to the apartment they all shared together.

But then the plan went into action: Ohana had previously contacted her family in Ashdod by email, and they had been in touch with the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary and outreach organization. The group helps rescue Jewish women from unwanted marriages with Arabs – and they arranged for people in place, ready to help Ohana.

The plan, coordinated by text messages, called for the young woman to bring her four children to the Erez Crossing, where IDF officials would let her through to the Israeli side. Yad L’Achim would find a safe place for her to live, where Abdullah would never find her, and would help her financially until she could get back on her feet on her own.

Not so simple for a young woman in Gaza speaking Arabic with a Hebrew accent, to explain why she needed to take four children to the Erez Crossing, quickly. "I asked how much it costs to get to the Erez crossing," she related. "He said, ‘ It’s 70 shekels.’ I said, ‘No. Take 100 shekels, and hurry.’ I tried to speak as little as possible, so he wouldn’t notice my accent."

Cutting through the region, Ohana said the taxi had to pass through several checkpoints manned by Hamas terrorists. "Each time, I kept myself covered modestly and tried to speak as little Arabic as possible," she said, "so they wouldn’t notice my accent."

The Hamas officials let her through, all the way across the region, and even at the Erez Crossing. However, when she got to the other side, Israeli security officials were cautious, even though the commander had been notified that she would be arriving. Yad L’Achim had already been in touch with the Defense Ministry and Shas party chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai to make sure everything would go off without a hitch.

She was questioned by Israeli soldiers to make sure she was not a suicide bomber or a spy. Still, one IDF officer told an official from Yad L’Achim, "I donate to your organization regularly and I feel that it is in that merit that I was privileged to be able to participate in this rescue today."

According to Yad L’Achim director Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz, there are still “hundreds” of other Israeli women caught in similar situations, “some in Gaza, others in Shechem or Tulkarm…and there are even some in neighboring Arab countries.”

Ohana and her children, meanwhile, celebrated their new-found freedom that night with her family. Her little ones will soon be given Hebrew names, and together they will all start a new life in Israel.

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7. Soldiers Who Held Protest Sign Booted from Hesder

by Gil Ronen

Three soldiers from Kfir Brigade who were involved in unfurling large protest signs against the IDF’s participation in eviction of Jews from their homes will be kicked out of the Hesder Yeshiva track which allows them to combine military service with Torah learning. They will have to serve in the regular 36-month military track, without Torah study, like non-Hesder soldiers. Hesder soldiers usually serve 15-18 months in the army, in between periods of intense yeshiva learning.

The punishment was meted out to a soldier from Shimshon Battalion who participated in a protest at the Kotel in October, and to two soldiers from Nachshon Battalion who participated in a protest in November. Shimshon and Nachshon are both battalions in the Kfir Brigade which operates in Judea and Samaria.

A supportive American donor gifted money to the Shimshon soldiers’ families for each night they spent in jail. A similar offer was refused by the two Nachshon hesder soldiers, who have now been punished four times: 30 days in jail, demoted to the rank of private, removed from future combat positions, and eviction from the Hesder program. The two said that they do not want any money for what they did, and that if someone wants to donate money, he should donate to the Negohot family whose home was destroyed.

In the first case, soldiers unfurled a sign that said “Shimshon Battalion does not carry out evictions at Homesh.” In the second incident, two soldiers hung a sign from a rooftop at the Adorayim Base in southern Mount Hevron, following the destruction of two homes at nearby Negohot in mid-November. The sign said: “Nachshon Battalion does not evict Jews either.”

Immediately following these two protests, the brigade’s commander, Lt.-Col. Oren Abman, sentenced the soldiers involved to 30 days in jail, demoted them to privates, and barred them from becoming commanders in the future.

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8. Hevron’s Jews Confident in Legal Struggle for ‘Peace House’

by Hillel Fendel

The Jewish Community of Hevron has begun its legal battle, preparing for the return of the large building known as Beit HaShalom (Peace House) to Jewish hands. The first hearing was this week.

With the loss, a year ago, of the political battle to retain the Jewish-purchased building, the Hevron residents have moved on to the judicial front in the Jerusalem District Court, and are confident that their efforts will bear fruit – though it may take a while.

The story began in March 2007, when 200 Jews entered the 4-story, 3,600-sq.-meter Arab-built structure in the City of the Patriarchs. It had been purchased two years earlier, after a long process, by Morris Abraham of Brooklyn, New York, for $700,000.

The building overlooks the strategic road between Hevron and Kiryat Arba, named Worshippers’ Path in honor of the parade of Jews walking back and forth to the Machpelah Cave each week for Sabbath prayers.

After nearly two years of legal maneuvers, during which the residents were prevented from making minimal repairs to the building such as putting on windows, the Supreme Court finally ruled that the building must be emptied of the Jews until the issue of ownership could be resolved.

The ruling was harshly criticized as having ignored critical evidence, and even retired District Court Judge Uri Struzman – whose previous ruling was cited as a precedent by the Supreme Court justices – said that his precedent should have led to the opposite conclusion. “It is not at all strange that the settlers are screaming that justice has not been served, and that the judges’ political opinions were the basis for their decision," Struzman wrote.

Now, however, the ball is back in the courts, and the Hevron residents are confident. Miriam Fleishman, who gave birth to a daughter while living there, says, “We have hired Attorney Ze’ev Sharf, who specializes in cases of this nature, and we are convinced that we will win. At the first hearing, held this week, the judge ruled that the trial itself will begin in 45 days, and all testimonies and evidence will be presented to the court. We have written, audio and video testimony that we purchased the building legally.”

In addition, the Arab seller has changed his story three times. He first claimed that he never sold it, then said he sold the home but didn’t receive money for it, and finally ended up claiming that he sold the building and received payment, but he wants to retroactively cancel the sale.

Fleishman says that most of the Jewish belongings that had served the occupants are still there: “The army sealed up the building, and our property, such as beds, closets and the like, are still there. The army, too, knows that this is a strategic spot, and that’s why they are stationed there.”

The Hevron Jewish Community is experienced in long, arduous campaigns – legal and otherwise – to retrieve Jewish-owned property that has been confiscated from it, either by Arabs or by the army. “The Eternal People are not afraid of a long journey” is one of the principles that governs their pioneering lives.

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