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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The end of Netanyahu's charade?

A long time ago, I warned that Prime Minister Netanyahu (who was then opposition leader) was not a true 'land of Israel' supporter, and that given the opportunity, he would like nothing more than to cut a deal with the 'Palestinians.' The 2009 Bar Ilan speech, for example, was indicative of the true Netanyahu. He's trying to please everyone all the time.

This is all coming to a head with the battle over the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, whose inhabitants the Supreme Court has ordered expelled from their homes no later than July 1, and with the battle over the Jewish village of Migron, which the Supreme Court has ordered destroyed no later than August 1. The true 'land of Israel' supporters (and by that I mean those who believe that the Jewish state should in principle retain the entirety of the land of Israel, whether for nationalistic or security reasons) are tired of having a piecemeal battle with the Supreme Court, and are seeking legislation that would legalize Ulpana, Migron and other lands ostensibly built on 'private Palestinian land.' What they seek is eminently reasonable: Four years from the completion of construction, anyone claiming ownership would be estopped from doing so.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's good friend and former IDF commander, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, hates the idea, because it would remove from the Defense Ministry the power to randomly prevent - or prevent altogether - the construction of homes in Judea and Samaria. Barak, whose party will not even make the minimum to remain in the Knesset if there are new elections according to recent surveys, was one of the prime reasons Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded his unity deal with Shaul Mofaz and Kadima. And his friend Netanyahu does not want the new legislation to pass.

But of course, he can't say that. Despite Netanyahu's best efforts, and thanks to the tireless efforts of Moshe Feiglin, the Likud rank and file has shifted right in the last three years. Netanyahu knows that he is in danger of losing control of his own party, and that is another reason why he sought a national unity government. So Netanyahu has to play a game, and he has learned his gamesmanship well. His game is delay. Delays help him not to have to openly take sides against the 'land of Israel' supporters.
Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, National Union Party leader Ya’acov Katz, who proposed the bill, and MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) met Tuesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has opposed efforts to legislate the issue of unauthorized Jewish building in the West Bank.

Netanyahu is set to enforce coalition discipline against the bill. Ministers or deputy ministers risk losing their post if they vote in favor of the bill.

Orlev, who had initially planned to bring a similar bill to the Knesset, decided late Tuesday night to pull his legislation temporarily, because he feared it lacked a majority. On Wednesday, he announced he would postpone the bill for two weeks.

Once a bill fails to pass a preliminary reading, legislators must wait six months before bringing it back to the plenum for a vote. It is assumed that the outpost bills can only pass if some of the ministers and deputy ministers break coalition discipline.

Katz, however, believes he does have the votes and that some of the ministers will risk Netanyahu’s wrath and vote in favor of the bill.

The timing here is critical because the High Court of Justice has ordered the state to demolish by July 1 five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost, located on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement, and to evacuate by August 1 the entire Migron outpost, which is home to 50 families. In addition, the state has told the court it will take down the Mitzpe Assaf outpost by July 1, which is home to 25 families.

All three outposts in the Binyamin region were constructed without the proper permits on land which the state classified as private Palestinian property.

However, in all three cases, the Ministry of Construction and Housing spent money on infrastructure; for Ulpana NIS 4.5 million, Migron NIS 4.3 million and Mitzpe Asaf NIS 600,000.

There are dozens of other outposts and hundreds of other unauthorized homes in West Bank settlements that were similarly constructed with initial nods of approval, but for whom final permits were never issued.

Katz’s legislation, if it passes, would legalize those homes and outposts. In cases where the homes and outposts were built on private Palestinian property the legislation offers to compensate the Palestinian owners.
YNet adds:
Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from right-wing ministers to use legislation to circumvent the High Court of Justice and prevent the evacuation of Beit-El's Ulpana neighborhood. The High Court has given the State a July 1 deadline to demolish five structures in the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Katz and MK Uri Ariel in an attempt to prevent the bill from being put to a vote but no agreement was reached. "The destruction of houses in Ulpana can lead to the destruction of thousands of other homes in Judea and Samaria and this is something the public cannot withstand," Katz said.

Meanwhile Barak voiced his fierce objection to the bill, which he said was "harmful to the State of Israel, the government and the settlement enterprise." The defense minister further added that the bill will be used as a weapon against Israel in the international arena.

"An enlightened state cannot legislate a law to abolish a concrete High Court ruling. The solution must honor the High Court's ruling and strengthen Beit El at the same time."
Since when does an 'enlightened state' have to accept the diktat of an unelected Supreme Court that reeks of cronyism? Why isn't it at least equally as 'enlightened' for the elected representatives (okay, sort of elected, but that's another issue) of the people to overrule the unelected Supreme Court? And where does Prime Minister Netanyahu truly stand? I suspect that he stands with Ehud Barak and not with the majority of the Likud or the majority of Israelis.

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At 8:21 AM, Blogger Rob Muchnick said...

Well said!

Feiglin for PM!


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