AG: Transfer of West Bank outpost to former IDF base is problematic (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis 06/04/12)
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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein held consultations with officials
from the State Attorney´s Office and the Military Advocate General
Corp, on Sunday to debate the legality of the plan to move the Ulpena
Neighborhood to a nearby military zone.
The legality of the move was put in question during the debate
because the area in question was expropriated for the establishment
of a military base, in accordance with the law. Changing the use of
the land for non-military use is not permitted though possible
solutions are still being sought.
MKs and right-wing activists are calling on Likud ministers to break
with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and support a bill that would
authorize settlement construction on privately owned Palestinian land.
The ministers are being called on to vote their consciences, but
these appeals come with a tacit threat. If the ministers don´t
support the bill in a vote on Wednesday, they will be punished later
down the line by Likud´s right-wing faction.
In the campaign, activists have published newspaper advertisements
reminding the Likud ministers of their statements favoring such a
bill. Activists have also conducted a telephone survey to probe
whether Likud voters would withdraw their support in a party election
for ministers who don´t back the bill.
"This law represents the only remaining solution to pave the way for
this neighborhood, in a confrontation with the High Court," a backer
of the law said. Supporters include MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit
Hayehudi ), MK Zeev Elkin (Likud ) and MK Yaakov Katz (National
The bill stipulates that houses built on private Palestinian land
will not be demolished if at least 20 Jewish families have lived
there for more than four years. The bill´s backers expect the vote
after the preliminary reading Wednesday to represent a final
legislative chance before the July 1 date the High Court set for
evacuating the Beit El settlement´s Ulpana neighborhood.
Netanyahu instructed Likud ministers on Sunday to oppose the bill,
saying such a law would badly damage Israel diplomatically.
"Our policy is to strengthen settlement while upholding the law,"
Netanyahu said. "One can always opt for a legislative solution, but
this has its costs, including ones in the international arena."
In recent days, Netanyahu has reiterated his concerns about an
international backlash if the cabinet actively supports the bill.
On Sunday, Netanyahu sent his initiative for the evacuation of houses
from Ulpana to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein for review.
Netanyahu´s plan calls for the Ulpana homes to be moved elsewhere; he
also wants to ramp up construction in Beit El.
Netanyahu also asked Weinstein to examine whether his solution might
trigger a wave of Palestinian demands for the evacuation of homes in
"We will wait patiently for the attorney general´s answers, so that
we can reach an informed decision," Netanyahu told ministers on
While Netanyahu has taken steps in recent days to prevent the bill
from gaining traction, he has not been consistent. He told Orlev and
Katz that he does not completely rule out legislation on the issue.
And while Netanyahu has backed a solution that would demolish homes
in Ulpana, his aides said on Sunday that if the prime minister´s
policy is not backed by Weinstein, Netanyahu could end up backing the
Yuli Edelstein was the only Likud minister on Sunday who said
categorically he would support the bill. There were signs that two
Likud ministers who have supported the bill in recent weeks will not
These are Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Vice Prime
Minister Silvan Shalom, who is also regional development minister and
minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee. (© Copyright
2012 Ha´aretz 06/04/12)
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