In swift surprise, Barak evacuates Hebron house (ISRAEL HAYOM) Yori Yalon, Shlomo Cesana and Mati Tuchfeld 04/04/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
As government debates fate of Beit Hamachpelah, defense minister
pulls rug out from under everyone´s feet • Vice Prime Minister
Ya’alon demands authority over Judea and Samaria settlement be
removed from Barak´s hands.
Israeli security forces in large numbers evacuated a disputed
building in the predominantly Palestinian city of Hebron Wednesday
afternoon shocking the Israeli political system, which was under the
uniform impression that the evacuation – initially planned for
Tuesday but consequently postponed – had been delayed until the end
of the month.
The evacuation was carried out swiftly after Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his position
that the house had to be evacuated immediately. In a statement,
Weinstein said there was no need for a governmental decision to
evacuate the building, as its evacuation was a necessary condition if
law and order were to be upheld. In a statement, Defense Minister
Ehud Barak said the order to evacuate came from him, after
the "infiltrators" were given eviction notices.
The inhabitants of the house in question – settlers who had entered
the home in the dead of night at the beginning of the week without
obtaining the proper authorization from the Judea and Samaria Civil
Administration – cooperated with the evacuation and no significant
clashes were reported.
"I will continue to safeguard democracy and the rule of law, as well
as the government´s authority over its citizens," Barak said. He
added that the legal examination of the residents´ claims of legal
purchase would continue, but that he would "not allow illegal acts
that present the government with facts on the ground."
A government official had originally told Israel Radio on Wednesday
that the disputed property would be evacuated in three weeks –
exactly one month after the settlers moved in. The source made the
remarks following a meeting of cabinet ministers on Tuesday night, at
which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak and Vice Prime
Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogey) Ya’alon were
present, which ultimately resulted in an impasse. The ministers were
expected to continue discussing the issue in the future.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to quit the
coalition if the residents of the Hebron house were forcibly removed
from the premises, as Barak had threatened to do. Lieberman’s Yisrael
Beitenu party holds 15 Knesset seats, and could send the coalition
into a crisis if it were to withdraw.
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein told
Israel Radio immediately after the news broke that "I really hope
that the prime minister knew about the plan to evacuate," suggesting
that perhaps Barak, who had issued the initial evacuation order, had
acted of his own volition.
"I heard the prime minister, I spoke with the prime minister, this
kind of behavior is crossing every line," Edelstein said. "Anything
would have been preferable to the kind of surprise we are
experiencing right now. I call on the government to put an end to
this once and for all."
Earlier Wednesday, Ya’alon called on the government to remove Barak
from his position of authority over settlements in Judea and Samaria,
and hand the authority over to a ministerial panel. The call came on
the heels of Barak’s efforts to evacuate the Jewish settlers from the
Israeli law does not apply over the Green Line in Judea and Samaria,
and the sovereign in these territories is the IDF Commander in Judea
and Samaria, OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, who answers to
the IDF chief of general staff and the defense minister. The law
dictates that all real estate transactions beteen Jews and Arabs in
Judea and Samaria, regardless of their legal nature between the
transacting parties, must be approved by the Civil Administration in
Judea and Samaria, which is under the authority of the OC Central
Command. It is this authority that Ya´alon is essentially demanding
be stripped from the defense minister.
The settlers moved into the disputed property a week ago, and were
immediately ordered to leave by the IDF for having failed to obtain
the proper authorization from the Civil Administration in advance.
The settlers have provided documents indicating that they had legally
purchased the property, but the eviction order remained in place.
“Barak doesn’t solve problems, he starts fires,” Army Radio quoted
Ya’alon as saying in a private conversation on Wednesday. According
to reports, he proclaimed that Barak’s actions were not
representative of the government’s policies. “The defense minister is
supposed to represent the government,” Ya’alon told Israel
Radio. “But Barak represents the views of only one faction.”
Barak’s associates issued a response to Ya’alon’s calls, saying, “It
is unfortunate that Ya’alon is incorporating his own cheap political
needs, for the purpose of winning primaries, into defense
establishment decisions, undermining the government’s authority to
protect democracy and the rule of law.”
Netanyahu tried to calm the attacks on Barak, saying, “There is no
need to exaggerate. We are talking about just one house, not a
sweeping policy. Let us not jump to conclusions about policy. We are
enacting responsible policies regarding the settlement enterprise and
we will act with thoughtfulness and moderation in this case too.”
Netanyahu stressed that he was maintaining ongoing dialogue with
Barak on the issue in efforts to coordinate a resolution to the
situation. “I asked him yesterday to wait with the evacuation so that
we could examine the facts, both legal and on the ground, and that is
what was done,” Netanyahu said.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he
asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to find a solution for the
Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El that would obviate the need for its
demolition. Netanyahu added that, on the recommendation of Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, he would soon be submitting the necessary
permits providing for permanent status of the Bruchin, Sansana and
Earlier Tuesday, Lieberman harshly criticized the issuance of the
eviction order, saying, “I see a dissonance between Migron and
Hebron. The absurdity is that Migron is a settlement with dozens of
families who will be evacuated due to the [Palestinians’] right to
own property. And what will we do in Hebron? Despite the residents’
right to own property, they too will be evacuated. If both cases are
based on the same right, there can’t be a decision by the defense
minister without the support of both the government and cabinet.
Considering what is happening in Migron, the decision on Hebron is
even more infuriating.”
“From a coalition perspective, this is a grave mistake, and I’m
choosing my words carefully,” he added.
Before Wednesday afternoon´s evacuation, occupants of the disputed
home, located directly next to the Cave of the Patriarchs – holy to
both Jews and Muslims -- displayed a business-as-usual attitude on
Tuesday, busying themselves with preparations for the Passover
holiday. “We will remain in our homes. The deal is sealed and the
ball is now in the political court,” resident Shlomo Levinger said.
“It’s not a question of politics or security,” Levinger said. “Ehud
Barak is trying to lead a right-wing government by the nose into the
realm of the extreme Left. We’re lucky that Ehud Barak wasn’t alive
at the time of our forefather Abraham. He would have issued an order
prohibiting the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs. We are glad
that Netanyahu demonstrated leadership and put a stop to Barak’s
political bullying. We hope he will allow Jews to return to their
heritage in Hebron and strengthen their hold on the city of our
The occupants of the disputed property asserted that they had filed
the necessary paperwork and hoped that Barak would now step aside and
allow the authorization of their continued stay there. “We hope that
Barak will be stripped of excuses to further delay the
authorization,” one resident said.
Visitors continued to frequent the contentious building in a show of
support for the residents. Among the visitors were Communications
Minister and Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon
(Likud), Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz
(Likud), Deputy Minister for Advancement of Young People, Students
and Women Gila Gamliel (Likud), MK Tzipi Hotoveli (Likud) and MK Uri
Ariel (National Union).
Katz affixed a mezuzah, the traditional doorpost blessing, to the
entrance of the building and said, “There is no unique security
situation here that warrants an evacuation. As long as everything is
done in accordance with the law, the Israeli government, headed by
Likud, must encourage settlement throughout the country. A decision
on this matter must be a governmental decision, and not a decision
made by a particular ministry.”
Katz said he intended to expedite construction of an access road to
the Cave of the Patriarchs. “This is our way of encouraging
settlement in Hebron,” Katz said.
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