The Ulpana saga
“If you grab too much,” says a Talmudic adage, “you risk losing it all.”
Ulpana outpost near Beit El Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias
As we approach June 5, the 45th anniversary of the beginning of the Six Day War,
we are reminded that the legacy of our miraculous victory carries both blessings
Yet again the stability of a government coalition is
threatened by disputes over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. In recent
weeks, the High Court ruled that the “Ulpana outpost,” a neighborhood in Beit
El, must be demolished by July 1. The property rights of a Palestinian man took
precedence, the court said.
In response, lawmakers from Likud, Yisrael
Beytenu, Shas, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi have drafted legislation that
would bypass the High Court ruling and empower the state to expropriate the
Palestinian man’s land, allowing the Ulpana outpost to remain in place. The
Palestinian would receive monetary compensation.
Like the dozens of MKs
who have come to their defense, we cannot help but feel sympathy for the Ulpana
residents. It was during Ehud Barak’s stint as prime minister in 2000 that the
government built the Ulpana outpost – complete with access roads and other
infrastructure – using generous economic incentives to encourage citizens to
Under different circumstances, a compromise could have been
reached. The most equitable solution would have been to handsomely compensate
the Palestinian landowner, providing him with an alternative plot of land on
which he could actually build.
But agreeing to reach such a compromise
would immediately label the Palestinian a traitor in the eyes of his fellow
Palestinians. Instead, he must insist on taking possession of land so close to
Beit El that he will be unable to use it.
And there are, according to MK
Ya’acov Katz (National Union), about 9,000 Israeli residents of Judea and
Samaria who are living in a similar situation and are, therefore, facing the
prospect of being evacuated like the Ulpana residents.
“koshering” outposts like the Ulpana neighborhood is not the answer. True, in
principle the government has the right to expropriate land in the State of
Israel. But it also has an obligation to protect individual property
As Barak Medina, dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew
University, pointed out, even inside the Green Line the state would have a hard
time justifying to the Supreme Court its right to expropriate the property
rights of one citizen for the benefit of another citizen.
expropriation is done in a discriminatory manner – against Palestinians who lack
full rights under Israeli law for the benefit of Jews who enjoy these rights –
it becomes even more indefensible.
Further complicating the situation is
the fact that Israel has never annexed Judea and Samaria (even if it had this
annexation would never be recognized internationally).
from the state’s perspective, the legal status of Judea and Samaria is
“disputed” even if it is not considered “occupied.” That’s why consecutive
governments have refrained from applying Israeli law there.
years ago Israel not only survived certain annihilation but actually managed to
win a miraculous victory. Judea and Samaria came under Israeli
The historic resonance and religious symbolism of places such as
Shiloh, Hebron and Jericho sparked a Jewish reawakening.
Arab nations’ refusal to reconcile themselves to Israel’s existence, peace
through negotiation and territorial compromise was not an option. Under the
circumstances, it was only natural that Jews would desire to return to the heart
of the Jewish homeland.
Some of the most talented, best educated, most
patriotic Israeli citizens established settlements in Judea and Samaria in the
fast four-and-a-half decades.
And it is only natural that our lawmakers
have a desire to protect the Jewish settlements. But passing the outpost law
will only spark yet another conflict between the Supreme Court and the Knesset
and pit liberal-minded Israelis against their more nationalist
Israel will be subjected to international condemnation and a
renewed effort will be launched to delegitimize the entire settlement
“If you grab too much,” says a Talmudic adage, “you risk losing