Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein gave the government on Wednesday the legal green light for the evacuation and demolition of five contested buildings in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Weinstein met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday night and gave the final, legal approval for the PM’s plan to clear the five structures, construct more housing units in Beit El, and create a legal framework for defending future claims against settlement construction.
The High Court of Justice ordered in May that the five Givat Ulpana buildings in question be demolished by July 1 because they were illegally constructed on private Palestinian land.
On Tuesday Weinstein said that compliance with the High Court order would not set a legal precedent that could affect some 9,000 other settlement homes, easing one of the government’s main fears.
The Prime Minister’s Office clarified Wednesday morning that Weinstein’s opinion met the prime minister’s demands, and announced that Netanyahu has decided to establish a ministerial committee for settlements which he, rather than Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would head.
“The solution we have found for [Givat Ulpana] strengthens and protects the rule of law,” the PMO said. Netanyahu has said he envisages the construction of 10 apartment units for every one demolished, and some 280 are planned for Beit El to replace the 30 homes in the five buildings at Givat Ulpana that are slated for evacuation.
Later Wednesday, the Knesset may vote on a controversial bill that would in effect retroactively legalize unapproved Jewish outposts — including Givat Ulpana. Netanyahu has come out against the measure, and threatened to fire any ministers from his coalition who vote in favor of it.
Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima party, told Israel Radio Wednesday morning that he expects faction discipline in opposition to the bill in the impending vote.
“There is no deliberation. The law is the law,” he said, adding that the proposed law would have far-reaching implications for private property throughout Israel, not just for the West Bank.