Amid murmurings of a coalition crisis surrounding the evacuation of Jewish families and activists from two buildings purchased in Hebron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting that the people would be allowed back in once the purchases are confirmed
“The government supports settlements, especially during these days when they are under attack and standing steadfast and with courage against terrorist attacks,” he said.
At the same time, he added, “we are a nation of laws and must respect the law.”
Netanyahu said that the moment the purchases are confirmed, families will be allowed back into the homes, “as we have done in similar cases in the past.”
The process of checking the legality of the purchases has begun, he said, “and we will do it as quickly as possible. If it is not completed in a week, I will make sure that a short interim report will be presented to the cabinet.”
Following Friday’s forced eviction of some 20 families and scores of activists in two adjacent Hebron buildings, right wing politicians and activists verbally attacked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for fighting settlers rather than terrorists.
Some 20 families had moved into the two large, adjacent stone buildings
on Thursday afternoon with documents in hand, which they said proved they had purchased it from their Palestinian owners.
They were joined by dozens of young right-wing activists who camped in the building overnight in hopes of preventing a forced evacuation.
But at 9 a.m., the Border Police with the help of the IDF forced open the doors to the buildings and pulled out anyone who did not walk away on their own.
Right after the evacuation, a number of young Palestinian men stood on the nearby rooftops and waved a Palestinian flag. They also removed the Israeli flags the settlers had placed on the roof of the two buildings, named Beit Rachel and Beit Leah. Issuing his first response on the matter, Ya’alon said the settlers had failed to obey the law and, therefore, were evicted.
“Israel is country of laws and I have no intention of compromising when the law has been violated,” Ya’alon said.
Those who “invaded” the Hebron homes “crudely violated” that law, he said.
If they wanted to move in legally, they needed to follow a number of legal steps, none of which they acted on, he said. As a result, they were forcibly evacuated, Ya’alon added.
The defense minister called on the MKs not to encourage citizens to take the law into their own hands by standing behind the settlers who moved into the homes.
“This is a sure recipe for anarchy,” he said. Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov contributed.