In turnabout, Netanyahu urges ministers to find way to leave Ulpana intact (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Chaim Levinson 05/09/12)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backtracked and asked ministers
to consider crafting bills to prevent the demolition of the Ulpana
neighborhood in the Beit El settlement.
On Monday, the High Court of Justice gave the government 60 days to
demolish houses in the neighborhood. In a surprise move early the
next day, Netanyahu added Shaul Mofaz´s Kadima party to his governing
Until recently, Netanyahu opposed bills on Ulpana because of the
attorney general´s opposition. But on Tuesday, Netanyahu discussed
the matter with several ministers and asked them to "think" about it.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein vehemently opposes legislation as a
way to solve the illegal outposts crisis. He has been reluctant to
request the High Court to further postpone the demolition of the
neighborhood. But he capitulated and agreed to submit such a request,
and the High Court insisted that the neighborhood be demolished by
Bills on the matter have proposed that if the government built
unknowingly on private Palestinian land, the owners will be
compensated with land or cash. These bills would also set limits to
avoid a massive takeover of land.
The political earthquake took the settlers by surprise, too. They
went to bed on Monday night knowing that most of the ministers
support legislation, and that the expected Likud primaries would work
in their favor.
One settler leader told Haaretz Tuesday he wasn´t sure how to view
Mofaz. "On the one hand, he was the defense minister who sent
soldiers to demolish houses at [the illegal outpost] Amona. On the
other hand, he employed a settlement assistant who supported us, Ron
Schechner," the settler leader said.
"The worst possibility, as far as we´re concerned, is that [Mofaz]
will continue to act as he has up to now: attending only to his
immediate political interests."
Another settler leader said that now that Netanyahu has a broad
coalition government, he is less dependent on MKs from Likud´s right
wing. This settler´s biggest fear is that all proposed solutions will
fall flat, and, with little time left until July, the demolitions
will take place. Netanyahu would overcome the minor crisis with
Last night, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz visited the neighborhood
and criticized Netanyahu - an uncharacteristic move by the finance
minister. Steinitz said the government´s May 2011 announcement that
the neighborhood would be demolished within a year was based on
a "faulty, unbalanced and shortsighted" decision.
The decision was taken after a meeting attended by the prime
minister, the defense minister, the home front defense minister and
the justice minister. Alo present were Minister Without Portfolio
Benny Begin and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya´alon.
Steinitz added that he has no intention of clashing with the legal
system, but that the High Court´s decision was absurd. "My friends
and I will spare no effort to find a legal and just solution, and
change the legal status if there´s no other choice," he
said. "Demolishing the neighborhood is illogical and immoral."
The chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements, Danny Dayan,
added: "The High Court´s ruling is a slap in the government´s face.
It was undoubtedly an effort to show the government who holds more
power, who can win an arm-wrestling contest .... The ruling´s only
purpose was to show that the court was stronger than the government."
(© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/09/12)
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