Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a sharp warning to government ministers on Tuesday, threatening that anyone who votes for a bill to legalize homes on the settlement of Ulpana Hill, which was built on privately-owned Palestinian land, will be fired.
The Prime Minister's Office has begun updating ministers on Tuesday that Netanyahu decided that the government position is to oppose a bill that would authorize settlement construction on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Officials in Netanyahu's office said that the significance of the message was that ministers and deputy ministers could not vote for the bill.
"We cannot operate a country in this manner," Netanyahu said. "We have major national challenges ahead of us – such as the advancement of a new enlistment law, the approval of the annual budget, and handling the African migrants. Only a united government could manage these challenges."
Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and Information Minister Daniel Hershkovitz (Habayit Hayehudi) announced that they intend on supporting the bill, even if they will be fired.
On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu will meet with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein regarding the evacuation of five homes in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. The main point of discussion will be Weinstein's opinion regarding the legality of Netanyahu's plan of relocating the Ulpana homes to an Israel Defense Forces base in Beit El, and the construction of 300 new housing units on the base.
According to senior Likud ministers and officials in Netanyahu's bureau, Weinstein is expected to give the go-ahead to Netanyahu's plan.
Weinstein's likely support for the plan to relocate the settlers reportedly stems from his disapproval of the bill to legalize the Ulpana homes.
Weinstein believes a major battle with the High Court of Justice would erupt if such legislation were to go forward.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at a conference in Eilat on Monday that he wanted to know Weinstein's decision before he decides how his Yisrael Beiteinu faction will vote on the bill.
Lieberman said he hoped "another reasonable solution" would arise, and if not, "the only thing left to do would be to approve a bill" legalizing the status of the Ulpana neighborhood.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, meanwhile, announced he would support the bill.
However, sources close to the prime minister said both Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu had left themselves a way out so they could oppose the bill if Netanyahu pressured them.
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