Elkin: Outpost bills unlikely to get vote

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) says Netanyahu has already asked that the legislation be delayed.

Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated  (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Apartments in Ulpana oupost in danger of being evacuated
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said that bills to authorize West Bank outposts were unlikely to be brought to the Knesset plenum as planned on Wednesday.
The bills authors, MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Ya’acov Katz (National Union) were intent Tuesday evening on bringing the legislation as private member bills on Wednesday for a preliminary reading.
But Elkin said that already on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had asked that the legislation be delayed.
The legislation can only garner enough support to pass, if Netanyahu gives law-makers in his coalition, including ministers, the freedom to vote their conscience.
Right-wing politicians are pushing to bring the bill to the plenum because they believe it is one of the few avenues left to thwart a High Court of Justice mandate to demolish by July 1 five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost, located on the outskirts of Beit El.
Similarly, the court has also ordered the state to evacuate by August 1 the Migron outpost, which is home to 50 families.
According to the court, both Migron and the Ulpana buildings were built without permits on private Palestinians property.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he prefers to find another solution short of legislation. The scope of the bills goes beyond Ulpana and Migron, and calls for dozens of unauthorized outposts to be recognized as legal settlements, a move that the international community believes violates Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements.
On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio that he also opposed legislation.
“It cannot cancel out a High Court of Justice ruling,” he said.
He said that the only solution was to offer to purchase the land from the Palestinian owners. It is a move that is considered unlikely, given that the Palestinian Authority imposes a death sentence on Palestinians who sell land to Jews.
But short of a land sale, he said, the only other option is to relocate the families to a 22-dunam plot of land in the Beit El settlement.
Barak said he believed that Beit El, along with the neighboring Ofra settlement, would remain part of Israel in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.
But he said, the issue here is not the future of the settlements, but Israel’s standing in the international community, which is bolstered by the fact that Israel has an independent judiciary system.
Outpost legislation that cancels out a court ruling also weakens that independent judiciary system, which is central to good diplomatic relations with the international community, he said.