|Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated .(Photo by: Tovah Lazaroff)|
PM to ask court to delay Ulpana homes demolition
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
State to request that High Court of Justice postpone demolition of 30 homes in the Ulpana outpost built on Palestinian land.
In the next few days, the state plans to ask the High Court of Justice to
postpone the scheduled demolition of 30 homes in the Ulpana outpost.
government promised the court that it would bulldoze the homes by May because
they were built on land classified as private Palestinian property.
the past year, right-wing politicians and residents of Ulpana – located on the
outskirts of the Beit El settlement – have lobbied the government to legalize
the homes. Last Friday, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz visited the
This Friday, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom is slated to speak with
residents there and pledge his support. The Likud party also held a rally there
Under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the government
initiated a policy to demolish unauthorized Jewish homes on private Palestinians
Ulpana residents have argued that the Beit El Yeshiva and Amana
– the construction arm of the settlement movement – bought the land from
Palestinian landowners. They received state-guaranteed mortgages and grants to
The government and the High Court do not recognize the legality
of the sale.
In 2008, the Palestinian claimants petitioned the court
against the outpost through the help of Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.
In response, the state said it would raze the five stone apartment buildings in
which 30 families live.
Still, earlier this month, Netanyahu said that he
would work to find a solution to avoid the demolition.
In an interview
with Army Radio on Tuesday morning, he said that the state planned to tell the
court that it wanted to delay the demolition so that it could pursue
Since the demolition was scheduled by the state and not
demanded by the court, the government has some flexibility in this
matter. But the court must accept its request.
“The matter needs
to be dealt with,” Netanyahu said. He said that although the situation was
legally complex, there were alternative solutions to the property
The prime minister added that it was important to work within
the legal system.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said
that if there was no way to retroactively legalize the homes, the state could
build new homes for the Ulpana families on a 22- dunam (2.2-hectare) tract of
land elsewhere in Beit El.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Yesh
Din and the Palestinian land owners, spoke out against Netanyahu’s
“The decision of the state to renege on its own obligation to
evacuate at the last minute, despite the fact that it had a full year to prepare
for the evacuation, is a worrisome deference to political considerations,” he
According to Sfard, “This occurs at the expense of the rule of law
in cooperation with offenders. It is surely known that the land is privately
owned Palestinian land, and that there will be no change in the
attorney general's position during the time requested.”
“Yesh Din will
continue to strive for a more moral State of Israel that respects human rights
and is based on the rule of law,” he said.