Westbank: The Society of St. Yves defends a village in the Hebron area, which received stop work orders for their electricity grid.The grid was erected without building permit, as the village was in the year 2009 still not connected to electricity.
As the Saier village in the Hebron area had no access to the electricity network, they approached the Municipality and through foreign funding they were able to construct an electricity grid that linked them to the Municipal electricity network. The infrastructure was constructed without permits. The village lies in Area C.
Stop work orders by the Israeli authorities were issued on 13 August 2009 against the installation of the electricity network although work has already been completed and the community is using the network.
The community then sought to apply to the Joint Committee for Infrastructure, the Civil Administration and the Inspection Committees to avoid the destruction of the electricity infrastructure.
The case was received by the Society of St. Yves on the 1st of September 2009.
The residents of Um Al-Butom, which is a remote part of Saier lodged a request with the Palestinian authority to connect them to the electricity grid. Their request was approved and the houses were connected to the grid. Um Al-Butom lies also in Area C of the West Bank and thus under full Israeli control. Roughly half of the electricity poles that were erected in order to connect Um Al-Butom to the electricity grid are in area B and the other half are in Area C.
Several hearings were set in order to hear the case in front of the Committee in Beit El; however they were all postponed for different reasons.
There are two legal options to proceed in this case.
On the one hand, it would be possible to apply for a building permit in the name of a certain individual and after all the usual rejections to take the matter to the High Court of Justice.
On the other hand, the Society prefers to make the case a public interest case, keep it in the name of the Saier Municipality, and fight it by applying to the Electricity Joint Committee for a permit. Therefore all the relevant maps and documentation relating to the project from the different Palestinian Authority’s (PA) agencies including the PA's "power authority" which approved the project have to be acquired. In the meanwhile St. Yves can ask the Planning Committee to freeze dealing with file until a decision from the Electricity Committee pertaining to the application is made.
Should the Committee refuse to stop looking into the matter as explained above, we could lodge a petition with the High Court of Justice in order to force it to do so.
Should the application made to the Joint Electricity Committee be rejected, we can lodge a petition with the High Court of Justice with the Saier Municipality as petitioner, arguing that the residents have the right to be connected to the electricity grid which is a basic right which must be available to all.
A hearing was scheduled for 3/9/09. An application for the delay of the hearing was sent on 2/9/09 and a hearing date was set for the 17/9/09.
A notice of the hearing with file number 78/09 was sent to St. Yves with no name on it. Due to the lack of information from the Committee of Planning and Building regarding the number that the Committee gave to the case, St. Yves contacted the Committee several times. On 14/9/09 they were told that the number 78/09 is for the Municipality of Saier. On 15/9/09 an application for extension of the order to stop working was sent. A reply from the Committee was sent on the 21/9/09 setting a hearing on 1/10/09.
On 1/10/09 at 9:30 am., St. Yves’ lawyers had another hearing in the military court that was supposed to end before one o'clock. The judge delayed St. Yves' hearing to 12 pm. Therefore an application, explaining those circumstances, was sent to the Committee asking to postpone the hearing for another day. No reply was received from the Committee.
Wrong findings of the Planning Committee were delivered to our office on 20/11/2009, a clarification regarding those wrong findings was sent on 4/12/2009, asking the Planning Committee for review of its findings. A partial review was delivered to our office on 14/12/2009.
A request for additional clarification and a request to photocopy the Committee’s file were sent on 18/12/2009. A visit to the Planning Committee in order to photocopy the file was made on 23/12/2009. A meeting with the Mayor was arranged and afterwards a letter was prepared and sent by St. Yves on 18/1/2010 to be signed by the Mayor of Saier. It was returned signed on 23/1/2010. On 5/02/2010 a reminder regarding the request from 18/12/09 was sent to the Planning Committee. Save
On 8/02/2010 a request for fixing a meeting with the Electricity Officer (EO) in Beit El was sent. The meeting with the officer was held on 15/02/2010, discussing Saier’s case. Many requests were made by EO, those requests and a new power of attorney specifying that they empower the Society to represent them in front of the EO were delivered to the Mayor of Saier on 16/02/2010 during the meeting we have had with the Mayor of Saier, his deputy and Municipality engineers at the Municipality. The participants listened to a briefing of the work which was already done and an explanation of future actions.
The Municipality was asked to cooperate with St. Yves in order to try and make a success of the case. The Mayor was requested to sign a new power of attorney by the Society in order to be able to deal with the Electricity Officer at the Civil Administration. He promised to sign it as soon as they translate it from Hebrew to Arabic.
Also the Municipality was requested to provide a cost estimate as to the price of making a town plan for the Um Al-Butom area of Saier since the meeting with the electricity officer in Beit El showed that without such a plan, the application for issuing a permit to the polls will be rejected. The Municipality promised to provide us with the cost estimate and to help in any way it can but made it clear that it does not have the funding necessary in order to prepare such a plan.Several phone calls were made by St. Yves to the Municipality asking about those requests, to date the power of attorney is not signed nor are the rest of the documents ready. On 12/02/2010 a reminder and a request to verify the delivery of requests were sent to the Planning Committee. A phone call and a notification were made with the Planning Committee regarding the delivery of the request. On 22/02/2010 a notification of our meeting with EO was sent to the Planning Committee asking the Committee to freeze all the final orders in the case. On 22/02/2010 a reminder regarding the meeting with EO was sent to him.
The case is still pending.