Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Settlers press Likud ministers on Ulpana: 'You're not Meretz'

Knesset expected to shoot down bill aimed at preventing evacuation of Beit El neighborhood, but residents continue struggle by flooding Likud ministers with emails, text messages and phone calls urging them to back legislation. IDF fears violence during eviction

The settlement regulation bill, which is aimed at circumventing a High Court ruling to prevent the evacuation of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, is not expected to pass when it is brought before the Knesset on Wednesday, but residents of the West Bank settlement haven't lost hope.


One minister said the Ulpana residents are applying "atomic pressure" by "texting, phoning and emailing" Likud ministers "every few minutes."


"They are trying to frighten the ministers into voting in favor of the bill," the minister said.


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According to the bill, structures that were built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank would be legalized retroactively. Any land owner who did not challenge construction on the land he claimed to own within four years would lose the legal right to do so.


Israel's Supreme Court agreed ordered that the five disputed buildings in Ulpana be demolished no later than July 1.


Labor, Independence and the Arab parties plan to vote against the bill. The rightist Yisrael Beitenu party said it would support the bill unless a solution that would satisfy all sides involved – including the settlers - would be found. Shas also announced it was supporting the law, but it remains unclear how ministers from both parties will vote.


On Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bill could achieve "the opposite of its intended effect, causing both the evacuation of the neighborhood and harm to the settlements."


"We have proposed solutions that would strengthen settlements," the prime minister added.


תושבי גבעת האולפנה מפגינים  (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Ulpana settlers protest in Jerusalem (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


While it appears that most ministers belonging to the ruling Likud party will vote against the bill, Netanyahu has made it clear that he would not hesitate to dismiss those who will support the motion.


"There is a majority within Likud against the bill, but the situation is explosive. Everyone is pressuring everyone else," a Likud official said.


MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), who tabled the bill, said "as far as we are concerned, the destruction of homes and the evacuation of communities cannot pass. The bill is aimed at solving the (Ulpana) residents' problems, and therefore we will put it up for a vote and hopefully it will get broad support."


Ministers told Ynet on Monday that one email sent by the Ulpana settlers read, "We wish to remind you that you were elected to implement Likud's platform and not serve as the contractors for plans supported by Meretz and the Israel-haters who fund it.


In a protest tent pitched near the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, protesters placed a photo of Likud ministers alongside their telephone numbers. They further urged visitors to send text messages to the government officials to convince them to support the bill.


Likud MK Danny Danon encouraged visitors to personally address the ministers, and said: "Don't give up."


Meanwhile, hundreds of settlers protested outside the homes of ministers Gideon Sa'ar, Gilad Erdan and Limor Livnat on Sunday night. Settlers from the Givat Assaf settlement protested the impending eviction of the West Bank settlement. They stood in front of Erdan's house and began building tents around his property. They demanded that the minister support the settlement regulation bill.


The settlers will continue their march from Beit El to Jerusalem on Wednesday, where dozens of Ulpana residents are staging a hunger strike. "We aren't violent people but it's hard to know what will happen," said one of the settlers.


"We fear that a single protester's foolish actions could lead to grave consequences, such as the settlement's eviction," he added.


Settler leaders and the IDF fear that extremists may instigate violence, but a right-wing source said they "do not intend to cooperate with those who negotiate with the government on the possibility of evacuating their homes.


"If they (settlers) decide to fight, of course we will come and help," the source said.



פרסום ראשון: 06.05.12, 00:54
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