Knesset rejects Ulpana bill 69-22

Liberman accepts Netanyahu's outline for evacuating outpost; A-G approves PM's plan, including further developing Beit El settlement, possibly by up to 300 units.

Demonstraters outside Supreme Court for Ulpana 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Chyutin Architects)
Demonstraters outside Supreme Court for Ulpana 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Chyutin Architects)
Speaking ahead of a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Liberman said that his Yisrael Beytenu faction accepts the prime minister's outline for the plan and that the party's ministers will vote against two outpost bills that would undermine it.
"The decisions taken satisfy the spectrum [of opinions] and all those trying to develop the settlement in Judea and Samaria, and it is my intention to vote with the government against the Hasdara law [outpost bills] and in support of society as it is developing today," Liberman said.
He spoke after Netanyahu received support from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for his plan to relocate five apartment buildings from the Ulpana outpost to an authorized tract of land in the Beit El settlements. Weinstein also approved the legality of a plan to further develop the Beit El settlement, by possibly constructing as many as 300 new units, according to officials.
The High Court of Justice has ordered the five Ulpana buildings removed by July 1 because they were built on private Palestinian property without the proper permits. Homes on three other outposts — Migron, Amona, Mitzpe Assaf — are slated for removal this year, as a result of petitions by Peace Now and Yesh Din to the High Court of Justice.
MKs Ya’acov Katz and MK Zevulun Orlev plan to propose outpost bills for a preliminary reading Wednesday which they hope would avert such a decree and would retroactively legalize unauthorized West Bank Jewish homes, including those in Ulpana.
According to the prime minister’s office Weinstein also assured Netanyahu that his office had a legal argument, which could prevent the success of further petitions. Katz estimated that there are some 9,000 unauthorized West Bank Jewish homes.
Weinstein’s plan, however, leave’s intact an essential principle of Netanyahu’s policy with regard to the settlements, that unauthorized homes on private Palestinian property, such as Ulpana, must be removed.
Netanyahu also agreed to create a ministerial settlement committee, which has the authority to authorize West Bank construction.
“The solution we found strengthens the settlements and upholds the rule of law,” Netanyahu said.
The Attorney-General’s office has yet to confirm any details of Weinstein’s opinions on the matter.
According to Liberman, “the whole package,” including building new homes in Judea and Samaria, forming a ministerial committee on settlements and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s promise that the Ulpana outpost will not be a precedent leading to future demolitions, brought him to his decision.
The foreign minister said that his party looked for a solution to the problem, not a reason for a crisis, and Netanyahu’s plan is “respectable and acceptable.”
Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio that every Kadima voter present in the vote will oppose the outpost bill.
"There is no room here for personal opinion," Mofaz stated. "Law is law, and there is one law for everyone."
"This is a battle over the rule of law in Israel and for respect of the Supreme Court," Mofaz said.
The two "hasdara" bills in question are set to be voted on in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Opposition Leader Shelly Yechimovich said Netanyahu is correct in enforcing coalition discipline, but added that it was it is unfortunate that he only put down his foot following extreme acts within the coalition.
Steps must be taken to ensure that further actions undermining the rule of law will not be taken, which would reduce Israel's standing in the international community, said Yechimovich. staff contributed to this report.
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