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Ulpana residents agree to voluntary evacuation (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 06/20/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=274497 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
After a late meeting Tuesday night residents of five apartment buildings in Ulpana outpost, located on the outskirts of the West Bank settlement of Beit El, agreed to voluntarily evacuate their homes by July 1.

They did so only after the Prime Minister’s Office pledged to build 300 new homes in Beit El and to amend its policy with respect to the removal of unauthorized settlement homes on private Palestinian property, according to a statement to the media by Ulpana residents.

In May, the High Court of Justice ordered the state to demolish the buildings, which house 30 families. Three caravans have also been included in the mandate, so that in total 33 families are due to leave their homes.

Ulpana residents noted that building 300 housing units hardly compensated them for the loss of their initial homes.

They quoted a statement by the rabbi of Beit El, Zalman Melamed, in which he said that just as a father who lost a son cannot be compensated by ten new ones in exchange, so too, “the pain of losing these (initial homes) won’t lessen and the stain (this action creates) on the government won’t lessen.”

In their media statement Ulpana residents said they had agreed to voluntarily evacuate, because “we are peaceful people.”

They added that, “this battle between brothers is tearing apart the Israeli public in general, and our population in specific.”

They had agreed to leave, they said, after receiving guarantees from emissaries form the Prime Minister’s Office for 300 new homes in Beit El, along with a promise that the homes they live in now will be relocated.

In addition, they said, “the prime minister’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the Defense Ministry won’t send out statements about absurd decisions to destroy developing neighborhoods and settlements.”

They asked for this last pledge in hopes of preventing future demolitions of settler homes.

The court’s mandate with regard to the Ulpana was based in part on a policy set by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, that unauthorized homes on private Palestinian property must be removed. It was also based on the state’s statements that the homes were built without permits on private Palestinian property.

Ulpana residents have argued that the homes were purchased from the Palestinian owners, but that the court never adjudicated that claim. The Palestinians in turn have argued that the land is theirs. With the help of the organization Yesh Din, they petitioned the court against the homes in 2008.

The court accepted the state’s claim and only explored the question of what course of action the state must take in response to the unauthorized construction.

Settlers and right wing activists had pledged to defend the Ulpana homes, fearful that their demolition would set a precedent for other settlers homes without permits on private Palestinian property. The state has similarly ordered the evacuation of the Migron outpost, which is home to 50 families, by August 1.

In addition, the state had pledged to remove the Givat Assaf outpost by July 1 and the Amona outpost by the end of the year.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not put out any information late Tuesday night about an agreement with Ulpana residents.

Prior to the meeting Ulpana supporters held a prayer rally of support outside the Ulpana homes. Activists who had been gearing up to physically defend the homes have also pitched tents outside the Ulpana structures. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/20/12)

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