Ulpana meeting ends; ministers will hold more discussions (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST COM STAFF 05/11/12)
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A special ministerial meeting to discuss the fate of the Ulpana
outpost, which the High Court of Justice has ordered demolished,
concluded Friday afternoon. The only decision made during the meeting
was to hold further discussions on the topic.
Participants in the meeting included: Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister-without-Portfolio
Bennie Begin, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Kadima party
chairman Shaul Mofaz and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, as well
as representatives of the IDF´s Civil Administration.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said a
law dealing with the outpost must do so justly, noting that illegal
Beduin towns in the South were handled similarly.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, however, blasted the attempts to
sidestep the High Court ruling. Asserting the government of favoring
settlers, she told Israel Radio, "The rest of the Israeli population
does not get special laws.
Retroactive legalization, she continued, encourages hilltop youth --
young radical settlers who set up unauthorized outposts -- to defy
the law in the knowledge that their actions can later be legalized.
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the
government must pass a law to circumvent the High Court decision to
demolish the outpost.
Ulpana and the finding a replacement for the "Tal Law," the foreign
minister said, are the two most important tests of the new
coalition´s worth, speaking to reporters in Jerusalem.
“The residents living on the Ulpana Hill are law-abiding citizens and
fulfill all their obligations: They serve in the IDF and do reserve
duty, they work and pay taxes,” Liberman explained. “This is not an
illegal outpost; it is the government’s mistake.”
In a last-ditch effort to save 30 Ulpana outpost homes from
demolition, two parliamentarians plan to ask the Knesset next week to
approve legislation to retroactively authorize the structures located
on the outskirts of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Both MKs, National Union Party head Ya’acov Katz and Zevulun Orlev
(Habayit Hayehudi) plan to present separate bills on the matter, for
which they believe there is majority support.
It is unclear if bills will be presented to the plenum on Monday or
Wednesday. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has yet to place them on the
schedule. The vote is considered a preliminary reading, after which
the bills must move to committee and return to the plenum.
The timing was inspired by last Monday’s High Court of Justice ruling
ordering the state, by July 1, to demolish the 30 Ulpana homes, which
were constructed without the proper permits on land classified by the
state as private Palestinian property.
But the bills deal with the larger issue of unauthorized outposts. If
the plenum passes the bills and they survive judicial challenges, the
legislation would transform dozens of fledgling hilltop communities
into new legal settlements under Israeli law.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to publicly state his
opinion on the matter.
On Thursday, the Makor Rishon newspaper published details of a
conversation between Netanyahu and Rivlin on the matter. According to
the paper, Netanyahu told Rivlin that he would free coalition members
to vote with their conscience, rather than opposing the legislation
has he has done in the past.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu was
looking at different options within the framework of the law.
Orlev told The Jerusalem Post he believes that there is enough
support to pass the bills.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told journalists that
he supported legislation to authorize the outposts.
Katz’s bill seeks legislation for those West Bank outposts
constructed with governmental funds or initial technical approvals.
In instances where such fledgling settler communities were built on
private Palestinian land, it suggests compensating landowners rather
than evacuating outpost residents.
The legislation would also retroactively legalize homes within West
Katz’s spokesman said he believed that some 9,000 already existing
structures would be impacted by the bill.
Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that the bills
were a test case for the new national unity coalition.
The question, he said, is whether the parliamentarians will
support “land theft” or reject the bills and show “they are committed
to the basic principles of democratic life and rule of law.”
Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/11/12)
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