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Likud split over settlement regulation bill
Controversy over Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood threatens ruling party; as some MKs say they may breach party discipline during bill's reading, vote according to their conscience
The growing controversy surrounding the impending eviction of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El is threatening to seriously rattle the Likud.

 

Party sources told Ynet Tuesday of an ideological spilt between those supporting the High Court-ordered eviction of five houses in the neighborhood, and those who oppose it.

 

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the bill, which aims to circumvent the court's ruling. The PM wants the legislation quashed and has therefore imposed party discipline on all Likud ministers, ordering them to enter a nay vote. 

 

Those supporting the bill include Knesset members Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely, Gila Gamliel, Miri Regev, Yariv Levin and Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin.

 

Gamliel said that "this is a matter of conscience and I will treat it as such"; while Elkin called voting down the bill "a grave mistake."

 

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin is also expected to support the bill. He too said that in his opinion, Likud Knesset members should be allowed to vote according to their conscience.

 

The bill, originally meant to regulate the status of the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron, stipulates that unless a Palestinian land owner petitions the court to appeal alleged illegal construction within four years of its discovery, the buildings in questions will be left as-is.

 

The bill, however, aims to protect areas housing neighborhoods numbering 20 housing units or more, while Ulpana numbers five.

 

Senior Likud sources said the there is a clear majority in the party in favor of the bill and that the party's MKs feel as if their hands are tied.  

 

Among those who support the bill but are likely to adhere to Netanyahu's order are Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.

 

Political sources said that the spilt within the Likud "has created two parties. This bill has unearthed huge gaps in the Likud concerning key issues."

 

 

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