PM to clash with Right over Ulpana outpost (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN, LAHAV HARKOV 06/04/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set himself up for a battle with
right-wing parties in his coalition and ministers in his own Likud
party Monday when he announced his opposition to the outpost bill
that will come to a vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Netanyahu had indicated earlier that he might vote in favor of the
bill if attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein would not approve a
compromise allowing the five buildings of the controversial Ulpana
outpost to be moved within the settlement Beit El. But after
Weinstein told him there would be legal problems with such a plan,
the prime minister came out firmly against the bill.
"We are a government that abides by the rule of law and strengthens
settlement,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction. “There is no
contradiction between the two. Even if the Court´s decision is tough
for some people, we must respect it.”
Netanyahu, who met with residents of the outpost on Monday, called
them “salt of the earth.” But he warned that outpost bill would harm
the settlers instead of helping them.
"The bill could be disqualified by the Court and cause problems
internationally, which would result in the outpost being evacuated
and damage to the entire settlement enterprise,” Netanyahu said. “We
are bringing solutions that strengthen settlement. The alternative of
passing this legislation would harm settlement.”
Netanyahu received support for his stance from his Likud colleagues,
Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon and Education Minister Gideon Sa´ar, who
announced today that they would oppose the bill.
But Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he would back the bill and
Transport Minister Israel Katz said he would leave early from Europe
to vote in favor. MK Tzipi Hotovely asked Netanyahu to enable
ministers to vote their conscience on the issue rather than enforce
“The law must be just, and an injustice should not be fixed by
another injustice,” Rivlin said.
The Knesset Speaker predicted a lively, intense debate on the
legislation in the plenum, adding that he and his deputies will
adhere strictly to protocol and not let emotions take over.
Inside Netanyahu´s coalition, the leaders of Shas and Yisrael Beytenu
announced their support for the bill but would not reveal whether
they would be willing to be fired from the government over the issue.
They expressed hope that an alternative solution could still be
found. Kadima and Independence expressed strong opposition to the
"Beit El is a very important settlement of thousands of people who
were sent there by the government and it will be part of Israel
forever alongside a contiguous Palestinian state,” Barak said. “The
Ulpana problem must be solved wisely. Israel does not live in empty
space. Nothing will harm residents of Judea and Samaria more than an
attempt to legislate such retroactive bills that will lead us to a
blatant confrontation with the international community.”
Mofaz said he understood the pain of the settlers but that the law
must be kept. He added that “the bill would harm the Jews in Judea
and Samaria, who are overwhelmingly there legally.”
But Kadima MKs Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich said
they would vote in favor of the bill. Whether the bill will pass
could be determined by the votes of Likud, Israel Beiteinu and Shas
ministers, which will not be decided until Netanyahu rules on whether
coalition discipline will be enforced.
Netanyahu held a late-night meeting with Weinstein about the Ulpana
Sunday night. Weinstein reportedly told the prime minister that while
many of the structures can physically be relocated, it is unclear
whether he can endorse moving the structures to an area currently
under the IDF´s jurisdiction but considered disputed territory under
Weinstein expressed concern about using areas which have been taken
over by the military on grounds of temporary security needs for
civilian purposes. The concern is based on a famous case decided by
the High Court in 1979 regarding the Elon Moreh settlement in which
the court held that disputed lands being used by the military can
only be used by civilians if the use will specifically serve a
In that case, the judges explicitly questioned the viability of
saying that an area was needed only temporarily for security purposes
with the picture of building permanent settlements.
On a separate and brighter point for the prime minister, Weinstein´s
initial position on the issue of avoiding a legal precedent appeared
to be more what Netanyahu was hoping for.
Preliminary conclusions from the meeting were that the Ulpana court
ruling would not constitute binding legal precedent compelling the
government to remove future settlements as it was issued with the
government´s consent, and not as a unilateral court order. Lahav
Harkov and Yonah Bob contributed to this report (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 06/04/12)
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