Right wing activists called on Likud ministers to remain faithful to the National Zionist camp by supporting two outpost bills, which the Knesset plenum began debating Wednesday afternoon."This is the hour in which your resolve is being tested," Amona outpost resident and activist Yehuda Yifrach shouted at a rally outside the Knesset.MK Reuven Rivlin began by explaining the legislation, which retroactively legalizes unauthorized West Bank Jewish construction.Right wing activists fear that without this legislation, some 9,000 West Bank Jewish homes are in danger of destruction.Already the High Court of Justice has ordered the demolition of five apartment buildings in Ulpana outpost, on the outskirts of Beit El, by July 1, which lack permits and were built on private Palestinian property.Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered his ministers and deputy ministers not to support the legislation.Most of the ministers appear ready to comply, even those who had personally promised settlers that legislation was the only solution.Some 50 people have gone out on a hunger strike as part of a lobby effort to sway ministers to support the legislation.Two of the strikers, including the initiator of the protest Yifrach, are on their ninth day of the hunger strike."After nine days it is not easy and not simple," said Yifrach, as he looked out a hundreds of supporters."But we see the great crowd that has come here and the great energy they bring," he said.To the ministers in the Knesset, Yifrach said, "Where are you? Why did we vote for you?" he asked."Where are your Zionist principles?" he asked.He referenced the most dramatic demolition in the history of the outposts, nine homes that were taken down in Amona in February 2006 as well as the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza."Is this why the Likud entered the government, so they could redo Amona and Gush Katif?," he asked.To those who vote against the bill, Yifrach said, "there will be a day of reckoning, a day of judgement."He reminded them that their public would remember this moment during the next elections."We know today who is faithful to Israel and who is not. We know today who is part of the National Zionist camp and who is not, who supports the settlements and who does not."He said that Likud ministers have called them to explain that the relocation plan for the Ulpana homes will not harm the settlement movement.But Yifrach said that he and those at the rally reject that conclusion.Dani Dayan who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria said that the true question in front of ministers is only this: "Will they chose the Zionist path or the post Zionist path of destruction."Members of the crowed yelled out about Netanyahu, "He is a liar."And the rally organizers played the an anti-Likud jingle which is has become very popular in the last 24 hours.As parliamentarians began the debate on two bills by MKs Ya'acov Katz and Zevulun Orlev, its proponents rallied by a protest tent which was set up last week on a street corner, outside the High Court of Justice, up the street from the Knesset.They set up loudspeakers, so that protestors could hear the debate.
Hunger strike tent (Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem)
Police managing demonstrators (Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem)
Protesters hold signs (Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem)
Overview of protests (Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem)
Speaker at rally (Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem)