Asked how his neighbors are taking the threat to their homes, Dickstein said, “There is great apprehension, mixed with tremendous hope and faith. Some people even began packing and looking for alternative housing – they feel they have no choice – though most others have not done so at all. In general, there have been some very good signs of late. Even the prime minister himself said he is actively searching for a solution, and that to destroy these houses would be a ‘decree that the public could not sustain.’ “
Many of his neighbors agree. Harel Cohen, who has lived in Givat HaUlpenah since it was built 12 years ago, in effect challenged the government to do its job when he announced that he is “100 percent confident there will be no destruction. Why? Because Israel has a government, and it is the government that is authorized to make policy – not Peace Now, and not a group of lawyer/clerks in the Justice Ministry.”
Others were more measured. Ro’i Margalit of Yeshivat Beit El – first as a student, now as an administrator – told The Jewish Press, “The government seems to have no choice, and will probably work to pass a law to the effect that buildings on contested land [after four years of occupancy] are not destroyed, but that compensation is paid to those who prove ownership.”
Such a law has been discussed for months, and several of the Knesset members and officials who visited this week have stated their support for this approach.
Some residents, however, feel that though the government will probably not destroy the buildings, it will take the path of least resistance to that end.
“They’ll probably just go to the Supreme Court at the last minute,” said resident Avi Shimshi, “and say they didn’t realize the full repercussions of their consent to bring down the neighborhood, and that they request two months, or three, or six, to reconsider.”
Addressing the Sunday gathering (see related story, page 3), Likud MK Danny Danon added a bit of humor: “I’m actually in favor of evacuation – not of the residents, but of Defense Minister Ehud Barak from his position!” He did not need to add that it was actually the decision of Barak, in his capacity as overseer of the IDF “governor” of Judea and Samaria, to order the destruction in the first place.
“In the end,” said Dickstein, “I think they will find a solution – because the truth is that they are looking for one. Practically the entire government, except maybe for Barak, does not want to destroy our homes. I sincerely hope it won’t be just a delay of a few months, but rather a once-and-for-all arrangement.”
“Look,” he concluded, “as a country, and personally, we have dealt with more difficult issues than this – even at this very moment…. But I believe and see clearly how God gives us the strength to deal with them. B’ezrat Hashem we will live here for many more years, and the Nation of Israel will blossom and grow throughout the entire Land of Israel.”