In a televised statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the government is in the midst of a very complex environment, and is upholding democracy and strengthening the overall settlement enterprise in its decision over the Ulpana outpost.
A bill to legalize the West Bank outpost was defeated by a vote of 69-22 earlier Wednesday.
Netanyahu said that the government had acted with responsibility and discretion, and thanked his coalitions partners.
He expressed sympathy for the pain of the families living in the Ulpana outpost who are due to be evacuated. However, he said, "you have to understand, we are working in a very complex environment, internally, internationally and in terms of the law."
He emphasized that his government would continue to strengthen the settlements, at the same time as strengthening democracy in Israel.
Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev, who sponsored the outpost bill, said he had asked his party to
leave the coalition after the bill's defeat.
at a press conference at a pro-Ulpana protest tent outside the Knesset,
Orlev said that if ministers - threatened with removal from the cabinet
if they supported the bill - had voted like the remainder of the
Knesset, the bill would have passed. Orlev added that he resubmitted his
bill to the Knesset.
Speaking earlier, activist and hunger
striker Yehudah Yifrach declared an end to the hunger strike, taken up
by pro-Ulpana activists ahead of the vote, in favor of struggling in the
Calling the cause "just, moral and logical," Rabbi Yair
Frank promised to bring the outpost bill back to the Knesset, and
maintain a protest presence in the rose garden by the Knesset.
Notable in the vote was the absence
of Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein.
ministers had previously publicly declared that they would vote for the
bill even though they would be fired from their cabinet positions.
Shas leaders absented themselves from the vote, as predicted by many commentators.
Wednesday, speaking ahead of a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee meeting, Liberman said that his Yisrael Beytenu faction
accepted the prime minister's outline for the plan and that the party's
ministers will vote against two outpost bills that would undermine it.
decisions taken satisfy the spectrum [of opinions] and all those trying
to develop the settlement in Judea and Samaria, and it is my intention
to vote with the government against the Hasdara law [outpost bills] and
in support of society as it is developing today," Liberman said.
spoke after Netanyahu received support from Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein for his plan to relocate five apartment buildings from the
Ulpana outpost to an authorized tract of land in the Beit El
settlements. Weinstein also approved the legality of a plan to further
develop the Beit El settlement, by possibly constructing as many as 300
new units, according to officials.
The High Court of Justice has
ordered the five Ulpana buildings removed by July 1 because they were
built on private Palestinian property without the proper permits. Homes
on three other outposts — Migron, Amona, Mitzpe Assaf — are slated for
removal this year, as a result of petitions by Peace Now and Yesh Din to
the High Court of Justice.
MKs Ya’acov Katz and MK Zevulun Orlev
plan to propose outpost bills for a preliminary reading Wednesday which
they hope would avert such a decree and would retroactively legalize
unauthorized West Bank Jewish homes, including those in Ulpana.
to the prime minister’s office, Weinstein also assured Netanyahu that
his office had a legal argument, which could prevent the success of
further petitions. Katz estimated that there are some 9,000 unauthorized
West Bank Jewish homes.
Weinstein’s plan, however, leave’s
intact an essential principle of Netanyahu’s policy with regard to the
settlements, that unauthorized homes on private Palestinian property,
such as Ulpana, must be removed.
Netanyahu also agreed to create a ministerial settlement committee, which has the authority to authorize West Bank construction.
“The solution we found strengthens the settlements and upholds the rule of law,” Netanyahu said.
The Attorney-General’s office has yet to confirm any details of Weinstein’s opinions on the matter.
to Liberman, “the whole package,” including building new homes in Judea
and Samaria, forming a ministerial committee on settlements and
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s promise that the Ulpana outpost will
not be a precedent leading to future demolitions, brought him to his
The foreign minister said that his party looked for a
solution to the problem, not a reason for a crisis, and Netanyahu’s plan
is “respectable and acceptable.”
Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio that every Kadima voter present in the vote will oppose the outpost bill.
"There is no room here for personal opinion," Mofaz stated. "Law is law, and there is one law for everyone."
"This is a battle over the rule of law in Israel and for respect of the Supreme Court," Mofaz said.
The two "hasdara" bills in question are set to be voted on in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Leader Shelly Yechimovich said Netanyahu is correct in enforcing
coalition discipline, but added that it was it is unfortunate that he
only put down his foot following extreme acts within the coalition.
must be taken to ensure that further actions undermining the rule of
law will not be taken, which would reduce Israel's standing in the
international community, said Yechimovich.