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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ulpana Hill’

Tragic Ulpana Hill Evacuation Conducted in Orderly Fashion

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The morning of the evacuation of Ulpana Hill opened with a mass Shachrit prayer of local residents, led by Rabbi Zalman Melamed, facing the settlement of Beit El.

Some residents wearing black shirts that read “Ulpana Hill, we shall return,” held an impromptu press conference. “This is a black day for Israel,” one resident said.

Didi Dickstein told Maariv: “This is our home. It’s hard to leave home.” He announced that he would passively resist the move. “It’s a very difficult day for neighborhood residents,” he added in a pained voice. “This is a happy neighborhood, alive and full of life, which is going to be destroyed.”

Dickstein emphasized that he and his neighbors have decided to leave without violence, according to Rabbi Melamed’s instructions, but he noted that “they made us leave, we do not leave willingly, I personally do not feel I can be a partner in the evacuation. Let them come and get me.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the neighborhood evacuation are already underway. Eight trucks were hired by the Ministry of Defense to move 16 families from their homes, half of them Tuesday morning and the rest in the afternoon.

Contractors hired by the Defense Ministry have arrived and are now helping residents to pack up equipment for transfer later.

Residents who lived in the five buildings slated to be demolished, are on schedule to be moved to the site of trailer “villas” known as Caravillas which was established for them in an empty military base.

By government order, to the extent possible, the evacuation will be conducted without the presence of children.

Beit El Caravillas Herald Ulpana Destruction, Massive Expansion

Monday, June 11th, 2012

In line with the government’s projected plan to destroy 5 apartment buildings in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of the biblical town of Beit El, six caravilla mobile homes were delivered on Monday to house evicted families.

The southern Samaria town, immortalized in the Bible as the site on which Jacob, fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau, had a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder, is bracing for the court-ordered destruction, after last-minute efforts to save the buildings in the Knesset failed.

A total of 33 caravillas are expected to be delivered to house expelled families in a new neighborhood in Beit El, carved out of an army base adjacent to the town.

The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the ministry is “operating around the clock” as directed by the prime minister and minister of defense, and would have the new neighborhood completed “as soon as possible [to] allow residents of the Ulpana Hill to leave their homes in the most respectable and convenient way”.  A specific date has not been publicized, but the court gave the government until July 1 to destroy the homes.

It is unclear to what degree residents of Ulpana Hill and the surrounding community of Beit El will cooperate with – or fight – the impending destruction.  However, Director of Development for Beit El Institutions – the original purchasers of the disputed land upon which the condemned apartment buildings sit – Baruch Gordon, says he is optimistic that not only will the buildings not be torn down, but that the fight for Ulpana Hill will result in a drastic expansion of the town.

“Something sweet is coming out of something bitter,” Gordon said, in an interview with The Jewish Press.

“Instead of taking on the court head on, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  is bowing to the dictates of the court, but at the same time is removing the harsh bite they intended to have.   He is saying ‘If the state prosecution wants to dictate to us, we will build ten houses for every one you are taking down’.”

On June 7, the prime minister’s office announced that permission for 300 new residences had been approved, as well as 551 in other communities in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.  The announcement evoked both elation and skepticism amongst supporters of Jewish development in the area, who celebrated the significant potential for growth, yet expressed concern that the announcement would never come to fruition, and was rather a cynical attempt to diffuse tension over the destruction of the Ulpana Hill homes.

“Even if [Prime Minister Netanyahu] can only do half [of the 300 homes in Beit El], that is a tremendous boost to our community,” Gordon said.  “So Beit El will grow by 10% as a result of this court case, even if he only keeps half of his word.”

Gordon noted that despite the best efforts of Yesh Din – the original complainants in the case charging that the Ulpana buildings had been built on Arab land – their lawsuit resulted in the advancement of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.

“The executive director of Yesh Din apologized in a statement to the press for the results of his actions, that it is causing Beit El to grow,” Gordon said.

“The civil administration has already approved taking part of the army base and officially making it part of the town of Beit El and there it will place the 30 temporary homes,” Gordon said.  “I sat with mayor Moshe Rosenbaum to discuss the plans to expand Beit El, and he showed me on the map where the homes are being planned.  Approximately 150 homes will be built without any problem, and another 150 which Netanyahu promised will be a little bit of a fight against the legal advisors of the PM who are hesitating on giving their approval.”

“All in all, it seems that Netanyahu’s policy is to bow down to the court and then fire back by expanding the towns of Judea and Samaria for every suit which is filed by the European -funded NGOs in Israel like Peace Now and Yesh Din.”

Netanyahu Planning Ulpana Hill Relocation, Residents Urge New Legislation

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

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.”

Ominous Déjà Vu

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Unease. Déjà vu from Sharon’s great Expulsion. It began with a column by Hagai Segal, who depicted the insistence of Migron’s residents not to move from their current location as a sort of childish stubbornness. After all, Kedumim was founded after it was moved from its original location and ultimately grew into a thriving community. So how dare those “children” of Migron, who never heard of settler leader Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever, think otherwise?

After reading that column, I already began to feel that we lost: Migron, Ulpana Hill, it doesn’t really matter what exactly will happen on the ground. Just like in Gush Katif, the struggle on the ground is really just make-believe. The real decisions on the fate of the settlements are being made in an entirely different place where the principle has already been determined, or, to be more specific, preserved. Now it is just a question of price. The deal is really being closed between the settler leaders with the same old Sebastia/Kfar Maimon mentality and the prime minister’s advisers.

I recently spent time attending meetings with Likud ministers, trying to convince them to vote in favor of the Ulpana Law. In a lively two-hour conversation, one minister analyzed the entire scheme of considerations and pressures with which the government is dealing. He left no stone unturned as he explained the facts in detail and analyzed them once again. But he gave me no answer.

When we got up to leave, I said to him, “You know, there is a certain moment in which all the right answers are no longer relevant. The political outcome is really not important. There is a certain space that you enter, without even realizing that you are there. But if you continue from that space to make all of these logical calculations, you lose everything.”

“That is true,” said the minister, “but we are not in that space.”

And then I understood the problem: “we are not in that space.” And we are not there because of the same mentality that plagued us in Gush Katif. The destruction of Migron and the Ulpana Hill doesn’t move us into that space. The victims are still being represented by the same Yesha Council, whose very existence will always ensure that we do not reach the space in which the settlers and their tens of thousands of supporters will embark on a genuine struggle to save their land.

We thought we were going to Kfar Maimon to battle the Expulsion. But in truth, everything was already decided before we started out. Our role was to play a bit with the army. The army’s role was to be sensitive and determined. Afterwards, we cried. It was everything but a struggle. The role of the Yesha Council was to ensure that we would never get to that space – to the genuine struggle.

The entire settler establishment is dependent on government funding. Even more, it is mentally dependent on the government. They refuse to understand that Judea and Samaria are “out,” that the reality has changed since the good old days of Sebastia and Menachem Begin. Judea and Samaria no longer exist in Israel’s long-term plans. All they are is a huge white blotch in the middle of the map of Israel. The only new settlement currently being built by Israel is Ruabi – for the Arabs.

True, in the midst of this strategic process, Zambish can still get authorization for a public building here and there. But the strategic picture is the negative of the gleeful days of Sebastia. The enticement to remain on good terms with the establishment, the source of the Yesha Council’s power, blinds them to the necessity to fight it.

When Migron will, God forbid, be destroyed, or when the homes on Ulpana Hill will be sealed (or even have a worse fate thrust upon them), the Yesha Council will decry the destruction. Nobody expects otherwise. Their role is to ensure that there will be no genuine struggle. They will guarantee that we will once again be dragged from our homes like harmless sacks of potatoes, while the country will continue with business as usual. Our rightist journalists will write terrible things about Prime Minister Netanyahu. The hilltop youth will continue to hate the state. Everyone will play his role in the grand drama whose finale has already been written.

The New Challenge

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Two weeks ago, in my weekly column on the NRG website, I wrote, “Nobody really understands why Israel is going to early elections.” So when I heard that the election merry-go-round had been cancelled, I was pleased.

True, the cancellation comes at the price of incorporating Kadimah into the government coalition. Kadimah is an unsavory, redundant party. But if this is the price Prime Minister Netanyahu feels he must pay to preserve stability and governmental continuity for four full years, I can certainly understand. If this brilliant move will bring about a change in the substandard governing culture in Israel, a culture that dictates that the average government in Israel lasts less than three years, then we have all gained a very important and fundamental norm.

The problem with brilliant moves, though, is that they are like floor tiles: The more brilliant they are, the easier it is to slip and break your head.

The power that the government will now have will allow it to make and carry out decisions in a responsible and measured manner without feeling pressured to dance to the drums of the media and the leftist chorus. Two major landmines are now at the new government’s doorstep. In both cases, logic, wisdom and justice are on one side, and media populism is on the other. This can be a great opportunity to do the right thing, or a great temptation to be swept away in populism’s murky stream. The ball is now at the mountain peak. Netanyahu and his new political partner, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, will decide in which direction it will roll.

The two major issues on the table are the threatened destruction of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El and the drafting into the army of the ultra-Orthodox. It is easy enough to understand that if the corrupt Holyland project was not demolished – and certainly not the tens of thousands of illegal Arab homes that nobody dares to touch – there is no reason in the world to destroy the Ulpana Hill neighborhood. The unity government can legislate a solution to the problem and easily absorb the ranting of the leftist chorus and its offshoots that will look on in dismay, as the victims of its planned destruction are snatched from its clutches.

On the haredi draft issue, reality shows that the haredi demand for appropriate enlistment frameworks is on the rise and has already outpaced the supply that the IDF can provide. This trend will continue, as it is impossible to stop it. It is just a matter of creating more and more appropriate frameworks in which the ultra-Orthodox can serve while maintaining their religious observance standards. Actually, there is only one thing that can stop this positive trend: mandatory draft into the current military frameworks, which the haredi community sees as anti-religious coercion. Whoever wants to be sure that the haredim will not enlist should go with the populist option.

These are the new government’s challenges. On one hand, it has all the opportunities; on the other, it is in danger of falling fast and hard. It can succeed and glorify the State of Israel and the Likud, or it can slide and break its head. Just look at what happened to Ariel Sharon and Kadima.

Is Netanyahu Ready to Demolish Ulpana Hill? The Settlers Don’t Think So

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Makor Rishon reported Tuesday morning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not see a way to prevent the court-ordered demolition of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El in the Benjamin region of Judea and Samaria.

Responding to a question from senior Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development and the development of the Negev and the Galilie Silvan Shalom, and other MKs, in a meeting of the Likud faction in the Knesset, Netanyahu said that “the jurists can’t find a solution” and that “the problem is that the land owner doesn’t want to sell.”

The Prime Minister referred to a dispute regarding the legality of the sale of the land on which Ulpana Hill was built nearly two decades ago, a dispute which Israel’s Supreme Court, based on the findings submitted by Deputy Attorney General Mike Blass, is seeking to remedy through the demolition of the densely populated apartment buildings and returning the land to an Arab who claims he is its rightful owner.

Jewish Home faction’s MK Zevulun Orlev and National Union faction Chairman Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) have both submitted “regulation legislation” which, in general terms, seeks to remedy the same dispute by awarding the claimant the value of his land or comparable land of equal value, should he be able to substantiate his claim in district court (where, perhaps paradoxically, the rules of evidence are stricter than in the Supreme Court).

But Likud Faction Chairman Zeev Elkin, according to the report in Makor Rishon, said that in his estimate neither of the proposed bills would pass in the House. This despite the fact that a clear majority of the Likud faction, and, supposedly, Netanyahu himself, don’t wish to see the demolition of the neighborhood.

Spokesman for the Ulpana Hill Neighborhood and assistant to MK Katz Harel Cohen told the Jewish Press the Makor Rishon headline did not responsibly represent the actual content of the piece.

The real story is that the AG staff are telling Netanyahu that there is no solution other than demolishing the neighborhood, says Cohen. “But in the story [faction chairman Ze'ev] Elkin is saying that if Netanyahu won’t release the ministers to vote as they see fit there won’t be a majority” for the new regulation bills.

“In other words,” Cohen emphasized, “There is a majority support for the bills, all it takes is for Bibi to release the ministers.”

Coalition government ministers, as well as MKs whose factions are part of the coalition government, are called on occasion to vote a strict party line as indicated by the Prime Minister, rather than based on their own choices. Failure to obey a directive on a key vote may lead to the expulsion of a faction from the government.

When asked by the Jewish Press why the Ulpana Hill have been hesitating to speak critically of Netanyahu, Cohen answered, “We don’t criticize the good efforts which are being made. Netanyahu is seeking a solution – that’s a fact. There are various suggestions out there – that’s a fact. He wants to resolve this in a positive way – that’s a fact. He said [the demolition order] is a decree the public cannot sustain, meaning he would lose the public if it does happen – that’s a fact.”

Cohen said he is strongly critical of Netanyahu, “who has an almost innate talent of getting himself stuck further and further in needless problems. Like a child who gets entangled in his mother’s yarn and instead of cutting loose just keeps on turning and getting roped in more yarn.”

Cohen says Netanyahu’s biggest mistake is to continue to rely on those same jurists who have misled him in the first place, and even misrepresented his own government policy before the Supreme Court. “What is he expecting, that the same people who stuck him in it would find a solution for the mess?”

According to Cohen, the solutions exist, and they will be employed eventually. He just wishes that the solutions are taken up sooner rather than later, to prevent even more anxiety and fear among the residents of the threatened neighborhood.

Makor Rishon also reported on a heated confrontation several weeks ago, between Deputy Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon and Deputy GA Blass, who was responsible for the report to the High Court on the legality of the Ulpana purchase.

In a discussion team assembled by Netanyahu to discuss Ulpana’s future, Yaalon attacked Blass, telling Blass he had misled him, Yaalon, when he announced the intent to demolish the neighborhood.

“You are conducting a contrarian policy, and we need to replace you,” Yaalon charged. “You have a vested interest in helping the Arabs and destroying Jewish interests. Every solution you’re being offered to help Jews is no good.”

Blass responded with his own outburst, saying, “There’s a limit to how much I can absorb.” Blass also argued that Yaalon himself had “signed off on the orders to demolish the neighborhood, and even added his comments on them, you have no basis to come complaining now.”

Demolition Babies

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Israeli children playing in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli government is looking for ways to sidestep a ruling by the Supreme Court to demolish Ulpana before July 1, following a land ownership dispute between Arab sellers more than a decade ago. The proclivity of Israel’s leftist legal system to inflict harm on the Jewish settlement movement may have reached a point here where the vast majority of Jews on either side of the green line would reject it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/demolition-babies/2012/05/13/

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