The two West Bank outposts Haresha and Givat Hayovel should be legalized and not demolished, said National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) as he toured the Binyamin region on Tuesday.
“There is only one solution – the signature of Defense Minister [Ehud Barak] to legalize these places,” said Landau.
He also called on the government to include the West Bank archeological site of Tel Shiloh, where the ark of the covenant was once housed, on its national heritage list.
“We should add it [Tel Shiloh],” said Landau.
He came to the Binyamin area to learn about issues relating to water and sewage, but he also made stops at the Haresha outpost and Tel Shiloh. His words come at a time when the US and the international community have harshly condemned any settlement activity in the West Bank.
Still, Landau spoke out in favor of these two outposts, against which demolition orders have been issued.
On May 1, the state is due to give a timetable for the demolition of 12 homes in Givat Hayovel and six in Haresha to the High Court of Justice.
Much attention has been focused on the 12 homes in Givat Hayovel, because one of them belongs to the widow of Maj. Roi Klein, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War, and a second home belongs to the widow of Maj. Eliraz Peretz, who was killed last month in Gaza.
Already last July Landau visited Givat Hayovel, which was first built in 1998 with the help of NIS 250,000 from the Ministry of Construction and Housing. It has 17 permanent homes and 30 caravans.
On Tuesday morning he stood on the hilltop where Haresha is located and held a closed-door meeting with a number of residents, the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, Avi Roeh, and Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Built in the 1990s with the help of NIS 1.6 million from the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Haresha is home to 45 families. According to Peace Now, there are eight permanent homes and 45 caravans on the site.
Peace Now filed a case against both outposts in 2005, when the six homes in Haresha and the 12 in Hayovel were under construction. Neither one of the outposts is among the 26 which Israel has promised the United States it would demolish.
On Tuesday, as he held a small press conference in a winery near the Psagot settlement, Landau said that only a technicality prevented the legalization of the outposts.
“The state invested money in the development of the area and called on people to settle it. These people were sent here by the government. Suddenly, someone decided he was not going to sign off on existing plans, and on this formal excuse the legal system deemed the places illegal,” said Landau.
This kind of thing happens in many other places in the country, but a solution is found.
“Here they have decided to remove from the land people who have invested time and money,” he said. “It’s inconceivable,” he added.
Landau said he did not believe that authorizing the two outposts is connected to the peace process.
Landau, who in the past has spoken out against the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, said Tuesday that for such a state to come into being, it could happen only in an atmosphere of true peace where Jews could remain in the West Bank.
In that scenario it is likely that 10 percent of the population of that state would be Jewish, he said.
Peace cannot occur in an atmosphere where the West Bank is Judenrein, he said, using a Nazi term that referred to clearing out an area of Jews.
Peace Now has said that the homes were built when it was clear that construction there was illegal and that the civil administration should have enforced the law.
It has argued that the homes in Haresha are built on private Palestinian land, and that in Givat Hayovel they are partially on private Palestinian land.
Landau said that the land’s status is being reexamined.
A senior defense official has said that the IDF Blue Line Group – a
branch of the Military Advocate-General’s Office responsible for
marking Israel’s borders – would conduct a review of the Givat Hayovel
Following the demarcation, the Defense Ministry will submit its response to the High Court of Justice.
With respect to Tel Shiloh, Landau said that it was just one of the
areas in the West Bank where the prophets had walked and which was part
of the nation’s heritage, whether it appeared on the list or not.
“I suggest we start teaching people at a young age about this heritage,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Office told the The Jerusalem
on Tuesday that the list was not closed and that there
was a process by which additional sites could be added.