Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein provided an official response Tuesday to a question from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the ramifications of the High Court ruling to evacuate the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, in particular the 'saw plan' – which would move five homes to another location in the settlement.
Weinstein explained in his opinion that the evacuation did not represent a precedent that could lead to other, similar demands in the West Bank, and therefore Netanyahu could calm the voices from the Right and the settler community that have been clamoring about the plan's possible consequences.
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The main legal problem facing the prime minister is the planned move of homes built on privately owned Palestinian land into a military zone. Senior legal officials said Sunday that the plan presented a difficulty, since land in the West Bank could not be appropriated for "security purposes" unless that were the actual reason.
One possible solution would move the residents into an abandoned military base temporarily.
Another problem is determining whose land would be appropriated, because it would need to be returned at some point. However, if the land to which the houses are moved belonged to the state, this problem would be solved.
A home in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The opinion serves as a reminder that the state itself made a commitment to implement the demolition order for Givat Ulpana, and that in the end it was not forced to keep that commitment. According to the attorney general, this means that no precedent is being set by the Ulpana eviction and the ruling will not have an effect on other cases of homes built on private Palestinian land.
Moreover, Weinstein said, the government retained the right to determine in what order demolition orders in the West Bank would be implemented, according to various criteria.
Based on Weinstein's opinion, it appears that Netanyahu will adhere to his decision to continue the process of evacuating five homes on Givat Ulpana on July 1 and oppose the Settlement Regulation Law, which is due to be brought before the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
If passed, the bill would retroactively legalize Ulpana and other Jewish outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank.
In a Likud faction meeting Tuesday, Netanyahu declared that the law could "hurt future settlements."
"The law could achieve the opposite of its intended effect, causing both the evacuation of the neighborhood and harm to the settlements," Netanyahu argued.
"We have proposed solutions that would strengthen settlements," the prime minister added.
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report