An outpost beside the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kochav Hashahar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Settlers on Sunday set up a protest tent near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence to urge him not to destroy their small neighborhood of 43 homes in the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar.
Although the homes, which make up the Mitzpe Kramim neighborhood, are within the settlements boundaries, they were built on private Palestinian property.
On March 16, just one day before the elections for a new government, the state is expected to present its plans for the homes in the Mitzpe Kramim neighborhood to the High Court of Justice, which is responding to a petition by Palestinians.
Doron Leshem, a spokesman for Mitzpe Kramim said the community was first created as an outpost in the 1990s on state land located outside the boundaries of Kochav Hashahar.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak relocated the outpost to an authorized location with Kochav Hashahar, as part of a well known “outpost deal” that involved 16 fledgling communities.
Leshem said that when he moved to Mitzpe Kramim in 2007, he believed the community was legal. The neighborhood is part of the settlement’s master plan, he said. Leshem even received a mortgage from the bank to purchase his home.
“It’s a Kafkaesque situation in which we woke up one morning and discovered that our homes were illegal,” Leshem said.
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In past responses to the Palestinian petition, Leshem said the state has already admitted that it erred in relocating the homes because it now understands that the lots on which they are situated are private Palestinian property.
The families, however, should not have to move just because the state made a mistake, he said.
“Netanyahu has the ability to prevent the destruction of Mitzpe Kramim,” he said. “We expect him to act in a prudent and sensible manner and not to [harm] residents who operated according to the law, just because the state made a mistake.”
The best solution would be to compensate the Palestinian land owners rather then to relocate the community for a second time, he added.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) visited the protest and called on Netanyahu not to destroy the homes.
“I came in solidarity with the people of Mitzpe Kramim and to say that the prime minister should keep his promise to them, that they can stay in their homes.”
Ariel noted that this is not the first instance in which Netanyahu has backtracked on his word.
“You promised to build in E1, so build. You promised that Amona would remain where it is, so leave it there.
“We need to build in all of the land of Israel, and most certainly the prime minister should keep his pledges,” Ariel said.
Strengthening the settlements, Ariel said, will be part of any coalition agreement his party makes. This will include legislation to legalize unauthorized construction within Judea and Samaria and the passage of the Levy report, which calls for those fledgling communities to be authorized.
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