Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated .
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Right wing politicians Monday evening called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to support Knesset legislation that could prevent the court ordered demolition of five stone structures in the Ulpana outpost, which house 30 families.
“The state has a moral responsibility toward the residents that it encouraged and sent to live there,” said Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (Likud).
She and other parliamentarians spoke out after the High Court of Justice rejected a state request to re-open the case against the Ulpana homes and to allow it 60 days to reassess its outpost policy. Instead it mandated that the homes must come down by July 1.
“This is the wrong decision and it is one that the public can not live with,” said Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud).
“The government must quickly enact legislation that will prevent the home demolitions and allow the Ulpana residents to stay in their homes,” said Katz of the outpost, which is located on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) added that his party would support such legislation.
In the past year, Netanyahu has consistently rejected all parliamentary attempts to authorize West Bank outposts, particularly those such at the Ulpana built on land classified by the state as private Palestinian property.
Netanyahu’s preference has been to attempt to forge a compromise with the settlers to relocate their homes from private Palestinian property to nearby state land. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has already said that new homes could be built for the resident on a 22-dunam plot of land in Beit El.
Until Monday, the state had hoped it could sway the court to re-open the case in hopes Ulpana residents would be allowed to stay in their homes. The court, however, firmly rejected that option.
On Tuesday evening the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip plan to hold an emergency meeting in the Ulpana outpost to assess the situation.
Politicians have already vigorously renewed their battle for a bill to legalize outposts because it remains the only possible legal avenue by which to thwart the court decision.
“It is clear to anyone that the prime minister decisively failed to defend the settlements. It is a Gordian knot of his own making. He could fix it with legislation whose passage he has physically prevented,” said MK Uri Ariel (National Union).
MK Danny Danon (Likud) attacked the court’s decision and said that it ran counter to the to the will of his ruling party.
“The court’s surrender to the extreme Left, damages [the execution] of the people’s will, which chose to place the Likud in power so that it could develop and build Judea and Samaria,” he said.
“It is the elected officials, the Likud-led government, which should determine these issues and not the Supreme Court justices, which represent their own individual opinions and not the will of the people,” Danon said.
The Labor party spoke out in defense of the decision.
The High Court of Justice has determined in a very clear way that the government must stop evading its obligations.
There is no alternative for respect for the rule of law, the Labor party said, adding that political tricks won’t help and that the court’s order should be executed and not evaded.
MK Nitzan Horowtiz (Meretz) said, “the attorney general and the prosecutors dishonored their office and disgraced the rule of law when they dared to ask the court to annual a ruling.”
“It is no longer possible to steal and lie in support of settlement business,” he said, and added that the state can no longer avoid executing this judgment.
Yesh Din attorney Michael Sfard said that the state had made a mistake by asking the court to reopen a closed case.
In so doing, he said, it greatly expanded the implications of any judicial judgment on the Ulpana outpost from one that dealt strictly with the structures, to one that could impact the authority of the court itself.
“Once the state filed the unprecedented request to cancel a final and binding ruling, the question of the case became much broader than the issue of the five apartments in the Ulpana outpost and became a battle over the law-abiding nature of Israeli society,” Sfard said.
But The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel slammed the ruling, saying it was “inconceivable that the High Court ignored the rights of citizens who bought apartments in good faith.”
“It’s obvious that if it were a residential neighborhood of Umm el-Fahm, the justices would have found a way not to destroy the homes of innocent citizens,” said the organization’s attorney Yossi Fuchs.