Two apartment blocks in a settlement in the West Bank have been ordered demolished by Israeli authorities. On Wednesday, an Israeli court made the determination that the two apartment blocks, located in the religious settlement of Beit El near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, had been built illegally.
The two unfinished apartment blocks were known as the Dreinoff buildings, after the builder undertaking the construction. However, they were being built without the required permits. The court decided to uphold a previous ruling mandating their demolition, even though the government tried to legalize the buildings retroactively.
Jewish settlers were enraged by the court order and have been protesting the demolition of the two unfinished apartment blocks. Israeli police forces were forced to step in to control the crowd.
The settlements are located on lands captured in the 1967 war against Jordan. Repeated announcements of new construction in the area by Israeli authorities was cited as a main reason for the derailment of the American-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians last year. The Obama administration views the settlements as illegitimate.
Shortly after the proclamation by Israel’s Supreme Court, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the construction of 300 more housing units in the same settlement. It was also announced that 91 housing units would be made available in the predominantly Jewish areas of East Jerusalem. Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement of new construction appeased some of the most vocal critics or the court decree.
Three years ago, another Supreme Court order forced the evacuation of five buildings in the Ulpana section of the settlement. Those building were erected illegally on private Palestinian land. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli government announced plans to build a new neighborhood of 300 housing units in Beit El.