Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
are the focus of fierce criticism following the eviction
of the Machpelah house in Hebron on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
said: "The handing of the issue from start to finish was bad. One cannot use the right of property claim to evict en entire community established 13 years ago and at the same time not honor the right of property when it comes to the purchase of a Hebron house by Jews."
He accused the Defense Ministry of trying to stir up a controversy and failing to provide security to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. "This policy undermines the coalition's stability. The only solution which will restore stability will be to transfer all authorities on Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria to a special ministerial committee that will aptly reflect the opinion of the majority of the public and government."
Sources close to Netanyahu said in response: "The coalition is stable, the eviction was coordinated." Netanyahu himself reportedly expressed his commitment to the continuation of the settlement in Judea and Samaria, specifically in Hebron.
Machpelah house eviction (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Ministers from the Right reproached Defense Minister Barak, who authorized the eviction. Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Minister Daniel Hershkowitz compared the move to "poking fingers in the eyes of the people.
"This is not a battle between law-abiders and lawbreakers, but rather between those who cherish the settlement project and those who seek to destroy it," Hershkowitz noted.
"The eviction was motivated by personal political considerations and against the positions of most government ministers," he said, adding that "the Israeli society as a whole will be forced to bear the cost."
Officers and settlers outside Hebron house (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Minister Limor Livnat called on Netanyahu to "establish a ministerial committee that will oversee decisions on the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, as was customary in former governments.
"This will put an end to the improbable situation in which the defense minister is the sole authority on such decisions," she said.
'Officers pushed and hit us' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the house said they were promised by Netanyahu's staff that there will be no eviction. "We were told that the prime minister will not let Ehud Barak run the government," one of the settlers said.
"It turns out that the real boss in the government is Ehud Barak, and Netanyahu is his submissive servant," said one of the residents. "Netanyahu's pledge to stop the eviction was nothing but a broken promise," he lamented.
One of the women who had been inside the house recounted the experience. "We were in the middle of Passover cleanings. When we realized an eviction was happening we shut the doors, but the Yasam officers broke in and quickly canvassed the rooms. We were presented with a warrant ordering us to leave the house."
The woman said that there were 15-20 people in the house and that the officers had pushed and hit some of the residents.
|Watch officers break into Machpelah house (Video: Reuters)|
Earlier on Wednesday, Barak and Netanyahu met to discuss the issue. Barak stressed he was legally committed to an eviction and the prime minister ordered him to secure the compound after the eviction and facilitate a legal solution which will allow the settlers to remain in the house.
The two also discussed the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and well as the future of other settlements. At the end of the meeting Netanyahu and Barak agreed on the Hebron eviction.
During a special cabinet meeting held Wednesday morning, Netanyahu said he had approached Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein about a solution to the Ulpana neighborhood to prevent demolition.
He added that he intends to present the government with the necessary permits for the status of other settlements such as Sansana, Rechelim and Bruchin.
Weinstein said in response that it was agreed that the issue will be reviewed by him before it is brought to the government. He added that the Beit El issue awaits a High Court ruling.
Itamar Fleishman contributed to this report