The hotly contested Ulpana neighborhood at the settlement of Beit El will be transplanted to military-controlled land within the settlement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Saturday.
Netanyahu said that if everything went according to plan, Ulpana’s five contested buildings — home to some 30 families, and built on what the state accepts is privately owned Palestinian land — would be transplanted several hundred meters away. However, in the event that the houses would have to be demolished rather than transplanted, 10 more would be built in Judea and Samaria, pending the approval of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
“The settlement enterprise will be strengthened by construction; in place of every house we are forced to evacuate, we will build 10,” said the prime minister.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called Netanyahu’s decision a “fake compromise,” adding that if implemented, it would — just like the 2005 disengagement — expose the Likud party as an “enemy of the settlement enterprise.”
Likud MK Danny Danon also slammed the decision, stating that Ehud Barak and the Kadima party members who had recently joined the coalition, among them Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, were pushing the coalition leftwards.
Opposition chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich, meanwhile, praised the prime minister’s decision, but added that “boasting that 10 houses would be built for each one demolished is unnecessary and harms Israel’s image abroad.”
The Supreme Court ordered the demolition of the five buildings by July 1. Netanyahu’s announcement implies that he aims to comply with the Supreme Court order while adequately compensating the evacuees.
Saturday’s decision comes over a week after the prime minister managed to block Knesset discussion of two bills, submitted by MKs Yaakov Katz (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home), that would have sought to bypass the Supreme Court order.