'Barkat promises not to clear Ulpana protest tent'

Settler leader Dayan says he secured promise from J'lem mayor to allow protest tent next to Supreme Court to remain.

Activist Yehudah Yifrach speaks at Ulpana protest tent 370 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Activist Yehudah Yifrach speaks at Ulpana protest tent 370
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Settler leader Dani Dayan said late Monday night that he secured a promise from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to allow the Ulpana protest tent to remain in its location next to the Supreme Court through Wednesday.
The Jerusalem Municipality on Monday evening had informed hunger-striking right-wing activists that they must evacuate a protest tent which they set up last week.
The activists, who are manning the tent to protest the pending demolition of four West Bank outposts by the end of this year, starting with the Ulpana by July 1, were startled to learn that they must leave.
“It is not possible that they will not let us demonstrate,” said Yehuda Yifrach, who initiated the hunger strike. He has not eaten since last Tuesday.
According to the municipality the standard procedure is to only allow the activists three days to pitch a tent, before obtaining a permit and another three days with a permit.
After that it is expected that the protest tent will be removed. But the absence of a permit does not necessarily mean that the protesters will be evicted.
Dayan’s spokesman said they hoped Barkat would keep his word and let the tent remain.
Yifrach said he believed the authorities want to halt their protest activities and added that the activists plan to remain.
The tent is part of an intense lobby effort to sway Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and ministers to support two bills retroactively legalizing unauthorized West Bank Jewish construction.
As a Knesset vote on the issue draws close, activity at the tent has intensified.
Activists have set up small camping tents on the grass by the larger tent. On Monday evenings dozens of people were hanging about, including whole families, talking, reading and in some cases sleeping on mattresses. Already on Sunday, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl moved his office to the protest area, and set up an adjacent tent.
As of Monday evening, 32 people were on a hunger strike, up from 24 on Sunday. Dayan was one of those who joined the hunger strike on Monday.
"The situation is critical," Dayan told the Post.
"We have to raise public awareness on the issue," said Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of activists began a two-day march to Jerusalem from Ulpana. They completed the first leg of the march and stopped at Migron, which is slated to be demolished by August 1. As they walked toward the capital, a number of parliamentarians and settler leaders held a press conference in the tent.
MK Ya’acov Katz, (National Union) who along with MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) authored the two bills to legalize outposts, warned Netanyahu that if he was not careful he might go the way of past prime ministers who acted against settlements.
He made veiled references to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a stroke less than a year after withdrawing from Gaza and remains in a coma, and to former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who had a plan to withdraw from large sections of the West Bank and then left office due to corruption charges.
“I told the prime minister if you start the crimes of expelling Jews from Beit El and other places, you won’t be prime minister. You were crowned a king, but you are not the King of Kings,” Katz said.
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) called on Netanyahu to free ministers to vote their conscience on the bill.
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said that the prime minister is at the “moment of truth.” He added that the Likud must remain loyal to the people who voted for the party.
Yifrach said that Netanyahu is "held captive by the extreme Left and the Attorney-General's Office."
But Yifrach said that despite those pressures, the fight to save the Ulpana was gaining strength. He added that, "We are calling on the Likud MKs to show leadership and vote for the bill, which is the only fair and just solution."