After announcing his intention to set up a team that would examine the possibility of retroactively legalizing construction in some West Bank outposts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, "The effort should focus on bolstering the communities, not clashing with the law. It is forbidden to build on anyone's private land."
Speaking to members of the Likud faction, Netanyahu said: "Last week I ordered accelerated construction of 2,000 housing units – this is the best way to strengthen the (settlement enterprise). We are acting, not talking. I was pleased with the feedback I received. These territories will remain under Israel's sovereignty in any agreement.
"We must build in accordance with the law, thus strengthening the Land of Israel. There is no contradiction between the (settlement enterprise) and upholding the law," Netanyahu added.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said he objects to the destruction of outposts in the West Bank because, according to him, there is "no proof of ownership and because the structures were erected by the state in good faith.
Acting, not talking. Har Homa (Photo: Reuters)
"The homes were built by the government, and destroying them would be the wrong solution," he added.
Knesset members Miri Regev and Yariv Levin also criticized Netanyahu's remarks, with Levin claiming that "judicial elements are dictating a political viewpoint that is preventing the government from governing. There is a simple solution to the problem, and the government must not destroy (outposts)."
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said during the meeting, "(The State) builds homes, a Palestinian casts doubt (over their legality) and someone petitions the High Court of Justice. It is enough that someone casts the slightest doubt for the State to become defensive and seal the communities' fate."
Netanyahu responded by saying: "Why must I destroy these homes? Is it required (from a legal standpoint)? I can offer compensation."
Steinitz continued to say that "we are making families miserable – not for a peace agreement and not for justice. It is morally and legally wrong. As someone who has researched the events at Amona – we will be subjecting ourselves to unnecessary tension and division."
MK Tzipi Hotovely told the Likud faction meeting that "the attempts to present the outposts issue as one that is related to upholding the law are misleading. It is a political issue. For the majority (of Likud faction members) razing outposts is a red line. Ten MKs said they would not vote with the government unless the outposts issue is resolved."
"We must pass a law that would legalize all the lands (in the West Bank)," Hotovely added.
While the Likud members convened in the Knesset, some 150 people, mostly settlers, protested outside against the plan to raze outposts. Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said during the rally that the outpost issue "is not in the hands of the court, but in the hands of the prime minister.
"It is the duty of all the national factions to refrain from taking part in the destruction of Jewish homes, and they must work urgently and decisively to cancel the order," he said.
Earlier Monday, a number of MKs and rabbis held a meeting during which they agreed that political pressure must be applied to prevent the razing of outpost homes.
"You are the ones who will have to carry the burden," Rabbi Dov Lior told the MKs.
Also on Monday, IDF soldiers and police officers were attacked while clearing the ruins of three illegal structures which were razed at the Oz Zion outpost. Twelve people were arrested, including seven teenagers, for hurling stones, assaulting police officers, and violating a closed military zone order.
During last week's Likud faction meeting Minister Yuli Edelstein and a number of other party members, including ministers Moshe Ya'alon, Gilad Erdan and Limor Livnat, urged the government to refrain from evacuating and razing Jewish-owned homes in the West Bank.
In accordance with its pledge to the High Court of Justice, the State is expected to begin a series of razings and evacuations at a number of outposts. Some 85 permanent housing units in Migron, Givat Assaf and Beit-El's Ulpana neighborhood are slated for destruction.
Meanwhile, the heads of the Shas, Likud, Habait Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism factions have sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which they demanded that he establish a legal time to find a solution that would allow the illegal West Bank outposts to remain untouched.
In the letter named "Saving the settlements and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria from ruin" the faction leaders wrote: "We call on you to ensure that the team mandate will allow him to examine and find solutions with regards to the problems on the agenda."
Also Monday, MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) said during a Knesset plenum non-confidence vote: "Habayit Hayehudi won't be part of a government that demolishes homes."
Urbach stressed: "Don't delude yourself that the partnership will continue to exist if the axe and bulldozer are used on outpost homes."
Yair Altman and Moran Azulay contributed to the report
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