RAMALLAH, June 2 (JMCC) - Faced with a court order demanding the government remove five settlement homes built on West Bank land where Palestinians were able to prove ownership, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backing their relocation.
He said Sunday that proposed legislation to legalize the buildings in Ulpana outpost and thousands of other settlement houses under legal challenge would put Israel under international scrutiny, reports the Jerusalem Post
Instead, the homes should be moved to established settlement blocs where they would not face the same legal issues, Netanyahu told party leaders. He blasted the court cases pursued by Peace Now and Yesh Din and said he would build ten homes for every one removed.
Over the weekend, Netanyahu held a number of discussions on how to respond to a High Court of Justice mandate last month to remove the buildings, which house 30 families, by July 1.
According to the court the homes were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
Although the buildings are permanent stone structures, it is technically possible to relocate them, the sources said.
Ulpana residents and right-wing politicians have rejected this option and instead called for Netanyahu to support two Knesset outpost bills, which would retroactively legalize unauthorized Jewish West Bank construction, including the five Ulpana buildings.
MKs Ya’acov Katz (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) plan to present these outpost bills to the Knesset on Wednesday for a preliminary reading.
Netanyahu has ordered coalition members to oppose the bills. The prime minister has preferred not to legislate the issue because he believes it creates more issues than it solves.
However, Netanyahu said over the weekend he would support the bills if Weinstein determines that it is not legally possible to relocate the Ulpana homes.
Orlev and Katz have argued that such legislation is necessary, because Ulpana is only one of four outposts due to be demolished this year as the result of High Court petitions filed by Peace Now and Yesh Din. Overall, there are 9,000 Jewish West Bank homes in a similar situation, according to Katz.
Both he and Orlev have argued that if Ulpana homes are destroyed, left-wing groups can continue to petition the court against these homes.
Netanyahu asked the Attorney-General to look for a legal global solution to prevent further petitions.
“I will not allow this sort of litigation to weaken the settlements. For every house that is destroyed, I will build 10,” Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that it was possible to relocate the structures to an authorized part of Beit El.
Additionally, he said, it is possible to build scores of other homes there.
Professional experts continue to deal with preparations to relocate the homes, Barak said.
In a statement to the media, Ulpana residents said that when Barak was prime minister his government had sent them to live there by providing monetary incentives, grants, mortgages and funds for infrastructure.