Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cannot promise he will not order more
settlement homes demolished, Ministerwithout- Portfolio Bennie Begin told the
Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday, in a meeting on the Ulpana outpost
near Beit El.
“I hope that the case of Ulpana is unique and does not set
a precedent, but the prime minister cannot say it will not happen again,” Begin
said, adding that he does not see a possibility of the government saying all
settlement homes built on private land will be authorized.
In the case of
the Ulpana outpost, which is scheduled to be demolished by the end of the month,
no matter what option the government chooses it will not be good, he
The minister explained that the government has a policy of
settlement expansion, even though the diplomatic circumstances are
“The existence of 360,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria is based on
past decisions by the High Court of Justice and the Attorney-General’s Office,”
National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz (National Union), who
called the meeting, said later on Tuesday that Begin’s statements prove that
Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein cannot be trusted to carry out Netanyahu’s
demand to prevent the demolition of thousands of outpost homes because of the
Katz called on Likud ministers to vote according to
their conscience to “prevent a terrible injustice and a social tragedy – the
destruction of one-fifth of the settlements in Judea and Samaria that has a
similar status to the buildings in the Ulpana outpost.”
At the meeting’s
opening, State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) asked why
the Attorney-General’s Office called for the homes in the Ulpana outpost to be
torn down, rather than other options, including precedents from the High Court,
to prevent the demolition.
The court adopted the Attorney- General’s
Office’s recommendation, and as such, the outpost must be demolished, experts
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) read aloud from a High Court
decision from 2007, in which Peace Now and residents of Bil’in said parts of a
neighborhood in Modi’in Illit was built on private Palestinian land.
court determined that it would be unfair to destroy homes that were already
built, because it would hurt those who innocently bought homes from the
“I don’t understand why the state hurried to tell the High
Court that whatever is on private land must be destroyed if this precedent
exists,” Eldad said. “The issue here is not the court, but the state’s stance on
Attorney-General’s Office representative Osnat Mandel
pointed out that the Ulpana settlers did not try to appeal to the High Court,
and the Defense Ministry’s policy is to demolish what is built on privately
Defense Ministry legal adviser Ahaz Ben Ari said that Beit El
was formed in 1978, on private land that the state took over for military
purposes in 1970. After 1979, the government stopped using privately owned
According to Ben-Ari, the Ulpana outpost is outside the land used
from 1970, and those who constructed the homes knew this.
Katz made an
emotional appeal to Begin, accusing him of “destroying for the sake of
“Begin does not have one drop of mercy. He destroys souls
and is tearing apart the Israeli public,” Katz said. “Justice that is followed
by a crime, by a heart of stone, is not true justice.”
MK Ghaleb Majadele
(Labor) accused Katz of owning part of the company that built the Uplana
outpost, saying the public must know the truth.
Majadele’s claims cannot
be verified, as the Company for the Development of the Beit El Yeshiva is owned
by Holyland Holdings, a company registered in the Marshall Islands, an island
country located in the northern Pacific Ocean where the law keeps the names of
Holyland Holding’s owners and directors confidential.
refused to comment on the matter.
Residents of the Ulpana outpost also
spoke to the committee, with Reut Lehrer saying that she feels like her family
members are “puppets on strings,” living in uncertainty.
Katz’s assistant and an Ulpana resident, said that Begin promised a year ago to
promote a bill that would prevent the outpost homes’ demolition.
not cockroaches or dust! What country in the world destroys homes that it built,
other than places like Syria,” Cohen asked, on the verge of tears.
want to kick my wife and my children out of our home, you want to ruin our
lives,” Cohen said to Begin. “Out of respect to your father [former prime
minister Menachem Begin], don’t do it.”
MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah
Judaism) said the issue was not about property; rather it was a question of who
controls the state – the democratically elected government, or the High
“When a government moves its sovereignty to the Attorney-
General’s Office and the courts, it destroys the state, turning it into a
terrible dictatorship,” Eichler said.
The court does not have to account
for its decisions, he added, and therefore, it is a dictatorship destroying
democracy in Israel.
According to MK Amir Peretz (Labor), settlers act as
though anyone who does not support them hates Israel, but demolishing the Ulpana
outpost would be better for the country’s future.
“You should not give
the message to your children that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a
monster looking into their window at night,” Peretz said. “If you care about
Israel’s interests, if you are a Zionist, you should understand that.”
Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said the Knesset should not have to “clean the
attorneygeneral’s dirty laundry,” in the form of a law that would cover his
mistake in the High Court.
“In east Jerusalem, the Attorney- General’s
Office explained that illegal homes cannot be destroyed because of strategic
interests,” Hasson pointed out, asking why the same policy does not apply to