PM to hold special ministerial meeting on Ulpana

Knesset to take up bill that could transform outposts throughout West Bank into legal settlements overnight.

May 11, 2012 07:05
2 minute read.
Yuval Steinitz in Beit El meeting on Ulpana

Yuval Steinitz in Beit El meeting on Ulpana 370. (photo credit: Miriam Tzachi/Council of Jewish Communities in Jud)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will convene a special ministerial meeting on the fate of the Ulpana outpost on Friday, Israel Radio reported.

The meeting will include: Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein.

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In a last-ditch effort to save 30 Ulpana outpost homes from demolition, two parliamentarians plan to ask the Knesset next week to approve legislation to retroactively authorize the structures located on the outskirts of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

Both MKs, National Union Party head Ya’acov Katz and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) plan to present separate bills on the matter, for which they believe there is majority support.

It is unclear if bills will be presented to the plenum on Monday or Wednesday. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has yet to place them on the schedule. The vote is considered a preliminary reading, after which the bills must move to committee and return to the plenum.

The timing was inspired by last Monday’s High Court of Justice ruling ordering the state, by July 1, to demolish the 30 Ulpana homes, which were constructed without the proper permits on land classified by the state as private Palestinian property.

But the bills deal with the larger issue of unauthorized outposts. If the plenum passes the bills and they survive judicial challenges, the legislation would transform dozens of fledgling hilltop communities into new legal settlements under Israeli law.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to publicly state his opinion on the matter.

On Thursday, the Makor Rishon newspaper published details of a conversation between Netanyahu and Rivlin on the matter. According to the paper, Netanyahu told Rivlin that he would free coalition members to vote with their conscience, rather than opposing the legislation has he has done in the past.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu was looking at different options within the framework of the law.

Orlev told The Jerusalem Post he believes that there is enough support to pass the bills.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told journalists that he supported legislation to authorize the outposts.

Katz’s bill seeks legislation for those West Bank outposts constructed with governmental funds or initial technical approvals. In instances where such fledgling settler communities were built on private Palestinian land, it suggests compensating landowners rather than evacuating outpost residents.

The legislation would also retroactively legalize homes within West Bank settlements.

Katz’s spokesman said he believed that some 9,000 already existing structures would be impacted by the bill.

Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that the bills were a test case for the new national unity coalition.

The question, he said, is whether the parliamentarians will support “land theft” or reject the bills and show “they are committed to the basic principles of democratic life and rule of law.”

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