[Translated from the Hebrew]
The High Court of Justice in Jerusalem
High Court Petition No. 5580/05
Before: The Hon. Yigal Mersel
The Petitioner: Zochrot
v e r s u s
The Military Commander in Judea and Samaria
The Civil Administration – Office of Planning
The Jewish National Fund
Request for Ruling on Expenses
1. Before me is a request to rule on the payment of legal expenses in the abovesaid matter. The matter of the petition is the non-posting of signs at the remains of two Palestinian villages in Canada Park . The Petitioner claimed that the refusal to post signs is unlawful and that an administrative promise had been made in the past to post the signs. The petition was submitted on June 9, 2005 and a hearing was set. A number of days before the hearing (on March 30, 2006) a request was made [by the Respondents] to nullify the petition due to the fact that the matter had been remedied and that the requested signs had been posted in Canada Park . On my decision of April 3, 2006 the petition was nullified and the question of legal expenses was left standing.
2. The Petitioner claimed that the petition was submitted following the passage of two years during which the Petitioner entreated the Respondents to remedy the matter set out in the petition and to carry out the promises that had been made thereof. The remedy was provided only after the petition was submitted and proximal with the date of the hearing, and therefore there are grounds to charge the Respondents with payment of legal expenses. The Respondents, in their response of May 8, 2006, left this decision to the judgment of the High Court but noted a number of relevant considerations to their claim, including: the public sensitivity of the petition; the Respondents' willingness in principle to accede the Petitioner's request even before the petition was submitted; and the relatively short period of time that passed between the Petitioner's last proposal regarding the location and wording of the signs and its submission of the petition. This relatively short period of time, it was suggested, would advance the conclusion that it would have been appropriate for the Petitioner to wait a short while longer regarding the matter at hand and to refrain from submitting a petition to this court.
3. Following an examination of the material before me and the statements made by the two sides, I have come to the opinion that the request should be granted. Indeed, although in hindsight a relatively short time passed between the last proposal offered by the Petitioner and the submission of the petition, in weighing the question of whether the submission of the petition was justified, the entirety of the circumstances in the matter should be heeded. From this examination it transpires that in the long period of time that passed prior to the submission of the petition, the Petitioner exhausted available procedures in its various contacts with the Respondents. It may be further claimed that the Petitioner was promised that the matter would be carried out; However, this promise was not upheld. In these circumstances, I have found that although only four months passed between the Petitioner's last proposal and its submission of the petition, nonetheless the submission of the petition was justified. Against this background also rests my opinion that the submission of the petition was what brought about the fulfillment of the remedy, particularly in the view that there was no finding in the position of the Respondents that the request itself had been approved before then, or that the Petitioner had achieved a sufficient foundation to assume that the request would be approved in full, particularly in light of the public sensitivity charged in the matter.
4. Regarding the rate of fees for professional services and expenses in these proceedings, indeed the petition itself was not especially complicated and touched on a discrete point. No hearing was held and there was no need to submit comprehensive court papers. There was no evidence brought to bear regarding execution in practice. Nonetheless, a not insignificant period of time passed from the submission of the petition until the receipt of the remedy, and the matter itself was settled very close to the date of the scheduled hearing. In attention to all these circumstances, the debt accorded to the Respondents is set at the fee for professional services of 7,500 NIS . This amount will be subject to interest and linkage as set out by law from the day of the decision and until payment in practice.
Given today, 9 Sivan 5766 (June 5, 2006).
Yigal Mersel, Justice
Information Center , Tel. 02-6593666; Website, www.court.gov.il
Letter to the University of Western Ontario
JNF signs will mention destroyed Palestinian villages
Letter to JNF on continued signposting of Palestinian sites
Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind (Haaretz, 14 Jun. 2007)
The signs are posted!
Procession of Return to the Villages of Latrun
Military Commander's response to the Canada Park petition
JNF's response to the Canada Park petition
High Court Petition on Canada Park
JNF Will Post Signs (Haaretz, 26 Jul. 2005)
Canada Park (Haaretz, 12 Jun. 2005)