Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment not to seek the evacuation of five homes in Beit El’s Ulpana Hill neighborhood, as required by a Supreme Court ruling, It appears that the premier has now come up with a creative solution, to evacuate and reconstruct the buildings on a nearby lot. Netanyahu stressed that “The element which strengthens the settlements is construction,” and so “for every house we will be forced to evacuate we will build ten others.”
The Prime Minister held talks this weekend on the issue of evacuating Ulpana Hill and forging a plan of action for the five houses which were allegedly built on privately owned Palestinian land to be relocated a few hundred yards from their current position, with the proviso that for each evacuated house there an alternative ten new houses will be built.
For the time being, Netanyahu is waiting for confirmation from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein of this solution. He is also awaiting Weinstein’s reply on whether a solution can be found so that future claims in similar cases will not result in more evacuations.
If the AG’s response would be that under current law there is no way to prevent future evacuations, Netanyahu would have to permit the Likud faction to support pending legislation which will regulate these law suits. The “regulation law” will set a statute of limitation for claims against existing settlements in Judea and Samaria, after which, should the claims be proven in court, the settlements would remain in place, but the claimant would receive monetary compensation or land of equal value.
Harel Cohen, spokesman for the Ulpana Hill residents, issued the following statement in response to Netanyahu’s plan:
“It was Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s government which settled us in the Ulpana neighborhood 12 years ago, providing incentives, grants, and mortgages, constructing roads and sidewalks, as well as connection to the infrastructure.
“Just as in the entire free world no one destroys a neighborhood if there turns out to be a bureaucratic problem with the status of the land, so will there be no destruction of Ulpana, nor thousands of other homes in Judea and Samaria which share an identical status.
“The Ulpana neighborhood will not be ‘copied’ even if it were made of Lego blocks, just as the Akirov Towers and Assuta will not be copied.
“The neighborhood residents bless the ministers and Knesset members who will pass by a large majority on Wednesday the Regulation Law and thus will prevent the fulfillment of a decree the Israeli public cannot sustain, as the Prime Minister himself has declared.”