Late Tuesday night, 15 Hebron Jewish families held a small housewarming party
in their newly purchased building, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a
small group of ministers met in Jerusalem to decide their fate.
politicians said they expected Netanyahu to authorize the Jewish presence in the
structure, which is located in a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron in an area
of the city under Israeli military control.
The IDF told the residents on
Monday that they must leave by 3 p.m. Tuesday, or face a forced removal, because
they lacked the necessary permits.
But right-wing politicians have argued
that it is the government, not the IDF, which must decide the fate of the
three-story apartment building in the West Bank city.
government can decide this and so it will be,” Communications Minister Moshe
Kahlon (Likud) told reporters after visiting the Hebron families around 5:45
p.m. “There is no need to evacuate this building.”
Earlier in the day, MK
Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) told reporters in Hebron that Netanyahu had to allow the
families to stay or risk the collapse of the government.
“It is clear to
the prime minister that if his seat and his ideological path is dear to him, he
will leave these people in their home,” Hotovely said.
Behind her, as she
spoke, one of the 20 party activists who accompanied her held up a blue Likud
Hotovely was one of a number of politicians who blamed Defense
Minister Ehud Barak for the threatened eviction.
From Jerusalem, MK Danny
Danon (Likud) accused Barak of using the Hebron home to launch his reelection
Sources close to Netanyahu said that they did not expect a
battle between Barak and Likud ministers to lead to a coalition crisis because
both sides understood why it was important for him to take the middle
Netanyahu referred to the Hebron building during a press
conference he called on Tuesday to mark the third-year anniversary of the
establishment of his government, and said that he and Barak were “in
Netanyahu said he had asked for a delay in the evacuation
order so that the facts of the case could be clarified, saying that this was a
single, specific instance rather than an case of the government trying to expand
the Jewish settlement of Hebron.
Regarding his government’s overall
settlement policy, Netanyahu said that “we have not brought about its
strangulation, as some elements suggested we did, but we also did not act
irresponsibly. We have acted in a measured and responsible
Netanyahu also related to the controversial Ulpana outpost on
the outskirts of the Beit El settlement, which the state promised to evacuate by
the end of this month.
Residents of the outpost on Tuesday said they
received a surprise visit from top military officers, which they assumed was
advance preparation for the evacuation.
Netanyahu said that Ulpana is
“not a simple problem.” Temporary mobile homes are not the issue, but rather
“real homes” in the heart of a neighborhood, he said.
Ulpana is composed
of eight stone apartment buildings. Each structure houses six families. Five of
the buildings are under threat of eviction.
“We are discussing this, and
I hope we can find a solution for this as well,” Netanyahu said.
Tuesday, politicians and the media were focused on the Hebron structure, which
can be forcibly evacuated at any moment.
Security sources said that in
spite of Netanyahu’s request, the eviction order stands.
As the 3 p.m.
deadline approached, Shlomo Levinger, a spokesman for the 15 Hebron families,
came outside to speak with the media.
“We are not getting ready to
leave,” he said. “We are busy getting ready for Passover.”
Dani Dayan –
who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip
– joined Levinger briefly.
“Why should there be an evacuation?” he
Levinger told the media, including The Jerusalem Post, that Jews
from Hebron purchased the structure from its Palestinian owner.
sources said that the sale is legitimate but they are checking to determine if
the Palestinian who sold it to the settlers had the authority to do
They added that this could take weeks, if not months.
Kahlon, along with other Likud ministers Yuli Edelstein and Yisrael Katz, said
they examined the documents and that the sale was genuine.
Minister Katz said that the PA’s arrest of the home-owner was proof that the
sale was authentic.
“It is shameful that the PA threatens the lives of
those who sell to Israelis,” Katz said.
In its evacuation order issued
Monday, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria said they were evicting
the settlers because they had not sought the necessary permits to authenticate
the sale and to reside in the structure.
Levinger said that the last
documents needed to request such permits were turned in today.
sources said that this process is also lengthy. The question is whether the
residents will be able to remain in the home while the matter is being
But in its evacuation order, the civil administration said
permits were not the only issues.
The settlers’ presence in the apartment
building could upset the fragile status quo in the city between Israelis and
Palestinians, and could create friction between the two groups, the
The building is located in a Palestinian
neighborhood in a section of Hebron under Israeli military control. It is
situated across a small park from the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Police have cordoned off the building. Only members of the 15 Jewish families
and politicians have been allowed to go in and out. Even reporters have been
kept at bay.
“It is very quiet here,” noted Hotovely when she visited.
“The real provocation is that of Barak, who doesn’t have political power or a
party behind him.”
“The government should send these people flowers, not
threaten to evict them,” she added.
Palestinians came out during the day
to watch events around the home, and there were some arguments with settlers,
but no violence.
At night, as the settlers finished their housewarming
party, a few Border Police officers milled about. Police jeeps patrolled the
Under the streetlights, Jewish children bounced a soccer ball on
the small paved parking area by the house.