Netanyahu: Any minister who backs settlement bill will be fired
PM issues threat ahead of Wednesday's Knesset vote on legislation aimed at preventing Ulpana evacuation; hundreds of settlers demonstrate outside Supreme Court in Jerusalem: 'Land of Israel belongs to Jews.' Meanwhile, dozens of tires delivered to Beit El neighborhood
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to fire any minister or deputy minister who votes in favor of the settlement regulation bill, which is due to be brought before the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Ynet has learned.
If passed, the legislation would retroactively legalize the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement, as well as other Jewish outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank. According to the bill, any land owner in the West Bank who did not challenge construction on the land he claimed to own within four years would lose the legal right to do so.
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Following Netanyahu's announcement, Shas ministers said they will be absent from the Knesset plenum during the vote on the settlement regulation bill. Ministers belonging to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party are also expected to skip the vote.
Shas members of Knesset said they will vote in favor of the bill.
The High Court of Justice ordered the state to evict five homes in Ulpana, but the bill, which was tabled by rightist MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), aims to circumvent the ruling and prevent the evacuation.
Netanyahu opposes the bill and has presented an alternative plan, by which the homes will be relocated several hundreds yards away, effectively placing them within a military zone in Beit El.
'Remember what we promised.' Rightist rally in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"We are facing major (domestic) challenges, such as promoting equality in the bearing of the national burden, passing the state budget and dealing with the infiltrators. Only a unified and responsible government can deal with these issues," the PM said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, some 400 people demonstrated Tuesday evening at a protest tent set up by hunger-striking residents of Ulpana near the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.
Heads of West Bank local councils were also present, as were Likud MK Danny Danon and Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, both of whom oppose the planned evacuation of Ulpana.
"The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people… the Jewish people want their leaders to tell the truth. Tomorrow, vote for true democracy – I believe that (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) also feels this way. Let G-d give him the strength to say what he really thinks," Lior said during the demonstration.
MK Danon addressed the Likud ministers, saying "Remember what we promised – that we would not be like Kadima or the Independence Party. This is the moment of truth. The struggle is not only for Ulpana. If we surrender, there will be thousands of other concessions in the West Bank."
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan also took part in the demonstration: "Tomorrow the Netanyahu government must make the Jewish-Zionist-moral decision on whether it chooses the path of the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 or the path of destruction," he said.
The residents of Ulpana are already preparing for their expected evacuation. A few days ago a truck delivered dozens of tires to the neighborhood. The tires may be used by those who oppose the eviction if and when security forces arrive in the neighborhood.
The locals did not say who was responsible for the delivery.
The extent of the opposition on the day of the evacuation will apparently be determined by local rabbis, but extremists may resort to violence regardless of the community leaders' directives.
Matan Fishman of Rishon Lezion, who attended the demonstration in Jerusalem, said "it appears that Ulpana will be evacuated. If it does, we'll travel to the neighborhood and lie on the ground. We'll prove that we are not suckers."
Itamar Fleishman contributed to the report
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