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Israel's High Court Gives State 90 Days to Explain Foot-dragging Over Unrecognized Arab Town

Administrative ping-pong keeps residents of Dahmash, an unrecognized village in central Israel, in legal limbo.

The High Court of Justice has given the state 90 days to explain why the legal status of an unrecognized Arab village in central Israel has not been settled, either by official recognition or by annexation to a nearby community.
Dahmash, located between Lod and Ramle, has a population of around 800 and is part of the Emek Lod Regional Council. Most of the village’s land was given by the authorities to its residents, who were moved there from other villages after the state was founded. The remainder was extended to them with a 50-year lease.
In recent years residents have faced fines and demolition orders for building without a permit, since construction permits cannot be issued for communities lacking a master plan. Residents began to draw up draft plans, but the various zoning boards rejected them on the grounds that approval would constitute the establishment of a new town, which only the national government is authorized to approve.
In 2013 a committee established by the Interior Ministry rejected a proposal from the Emek Lod Regional Council to annex Dahmash to Lod, leaving the village in the regional council but with no legal status. That same year the residents petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that the cabinet debate their demand that Dahmash be declared an independent community.
At a hearing in March 2015, the court asked the state to reconsider the possibility of annexing the village to Lod, but over the 16 ensuing months, the state reported several times to the court that no decision had been made.
In its most recent update, it emerged that the interior minister, who was asked to decide on the matter, passed the decision to the Prime Minister’s Office, which tossed it back to the minister, indicating that at least some of the delay is the result of a dispute over who has the authority to make the decision.
Another factor stems from the refusal of other local governments to accept responsibility; both Lod and Ramle refuse to agree to annexation and the Emek Lod Regional Council objects to declaring the village an independent entity. According to the residents’ attorney, Kais Nasser, these delays are what led to another request that the High Court intervene.
Justices Esther Hayut, Zvi Zylbertal and Anat Baron, who on Monday demanded the state’s response, also ordered the Lod and Ramle city governments to address the state’s position once it is submitted, and to explain why they object to annexing the village.
According to Nasser, Dahmash residents were pleased by the justices’ instructions and hope the court will prevent any further delays.
“The court’s decision says that there’s been enough of the state evading a decision on the issue of Dahmash,” Nasser said. “The state must now supply clear and persuasive answers why it hasn’t regularized the village as an independent community and thus end the residents’ great suffering. The residents are trying for a decade to legalize the village but keep running into walls. It’s too bad that the state doesn’t pick up the gauntlet and turn Dahmash into a model for coexistence between Arabs and Jews.”

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.732137Schermata 2016 07 21 alle 22.42.33

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Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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