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District court bars UN construction in Jerusalem without Israel’s permission

The Jerusalem District Court has required the United Nations to desist from any further construction until a full agreement is reached through diplomatic negotiations.

The United Nations’s Armon HaNatziv compound in Jerusalem. (Regavim)
The United Nations’s Armon HaNatziv compound in Jerusalem. (Regavim)

The Jerusalem District Court required the United Nations last week to freeze all new construction projects at the UNTSO’s Armon HaNatziv compound.

In March 2017, a lawsuit submitted by Regavim revealed that the United Nations had committed numerous violations of Israel’s building and construction laws in the Armon HaNatziv compound, and had illegally seized dozens of dunams of state-owned land beyond the area set aside for the treaty-monitoring body’s use.

The state’s attorney admitted that extensive illegal construction had been carried out at the site and made a commitment to engage the United Nations in diplomatic negotiations aimed at creating a system for coordination regarding construction at the site.

Last week, the state submitted a report on the progress of these diplomatic talks, in which it explained that “diplomatic efforts take a very long time, and no apparatus for coordination has been agreed upon by the parties as of yet,” but the discussions are proceeding “to the state’s satisfaction.”

Regavim notes that the diplomatic channel was opened more than a year ago with no end in sight: The sides do not appear to be close to agreement.

Upon receiving the state’s progress update, Justice Oded Shaham required that an additional update be submitted in November. Until then, the United Nations is to refrain from new construction of any kind at the site.

Regavim welcomed the court’s decision. “The U.N.’s diplomatic immunity does not allow it to violate the laws of the host country,” said Regavim’s attorney, Avi Segal. “Before Regavim submitted its petition, the U.N. made itself at home in the Jerusalem compound, brazenly disregarding Israel’s sovereignty and Israeli law. This decision by the District Court establishes that no further construction will be carried out at the UNTSO compound without the consent and permission of the State of Israel.

“The issue of the illegal seizure of some 30 dunams of land, beyond what was set aside for the U.N.’s use by the state of Israel, will be pursued in a separate hearing.”

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