Israel Expands Settlements After Court Ruling, Stoking Tensions

Israel Expands Settlements After Court Ruling, Stoking Tensions
Young Israeli settlers scuffle with border police officers over the demolition of a building at the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Wednesday, July 29, 2015 (AP photo/Tsafrir Abayov).

On Wednesday, Israeli settlers clashed with security forces after the Israeli High Court declared two apartment blocks in the West Bank settlement of Beit El illegal and ordered their demolition, stoking outrage among settlers and right-wing members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Following the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly authorized 300 new construction units in East Jerusalem, reacting to pressure from the Likud and Jewish Home parties. The court had previously rejected an appeal—issued by settlers and backed by the government—to prevent the demolition.

Right-wing members of the Knesset were outraged at the court ruling: Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party said it “benefitted charlatans” and suggested a “[bulldozer] shovel should be used against the High Court.” The outspoken minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked, demanded a special court be created to “deal with housing disputes in Judea and Samaria,” the official Israeli term for the West Bank. Many right-wing legislators defended her position. Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, of the Jewish Home party, characterized the ruling as “another nail in the burial coffin of an arrogant Supreme Court that does not know its place.”

This indignity is directed toward a right-leaning court that has authorized many of the occupation’s most conservative mechanisms, from settlement expansion to forced evictions.

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