Katz in Ulpana: Gov't shouldn't raze settler homes

Transportation minister visits West Bank outpost, says Barak turning Defense Ministry into political tool.

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)
The government should not demolish any Jewish homes in the West Bank Ulpana outpost, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said on Friday during a visit to the neighborhood near the Beit El settlement.
"I came here to express clearly that the houses here should not be destroyed," Katz said in Ulpana, which is nestled in the hills north of Jerusalem. "The government must amend its position concerning the Ulpana neighborhood."
"There is no doubt that when the government gave its answer to the Supreme Court it did not consider all the consequences of that decision," Katz said, referring to the court case in which the government had promised to evacuate the controversial homes in Ulpana.
The transportation minister - an active proponent of the settlement movement who most recently spent time in Hebron as the government planned to evacuate a Jewish home there - said he was working to establish a ministerial committee that would oversee settlement affairs, explaining that it would be "a formal body in which ministers can express their positions."
"The Defense Ministry, of course, will be part of this [committee] but it will not be determining policy by itself," he said, reiterating criticism of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who Katz - a Likud MK - charged was turning the Defense Ministry into a political tool "at the expense" of settlers.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced last week that he had asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinsein to spare the hilltop homes, despite the fact that the proof of purchase presented by residents was deemed unauthentic in a ruling that paved the way for the government-ordered demolition.
The government will put the authorization of the outpost, along with three other West Bank Jewish outposts, to a cabinet vote next week.