The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El .
The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. Photo by Emil Salman
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The behavior of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most of his ministers with regard to Beit El's Givat Ha'ulpana neighborhood recalls that of a career criminal who is undaunted by condemnation or punishment.

Despite the harsh response from the High Court of Justice, led by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, to the government's request to postpone yet again the evacuation of the Migron outpost, Netanyahu has told Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to "find a solution" that would allow the state to violate its promise to the court to demolish Givat Ha'ulpana's buildings by the end of the month.

As with the recent case of the so-called Machpelah House in Hebron, which settlers moved into without the necessary permits, our elected officials are competing with each other in attacking Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who dares to try to meet the state's commitment to the nation's highest court.

A year ago Netanyahu himself signed off on the state's promise to evacuate the dozens of families living in Givat Ha'ulpana and demolish their homes. He now says the court order is "a decree the public cannot tolerate." The prime minister should now explain to the Palestinian public how it is supposed to tolerate the theft of its land and to the Israeli public how it is supposed to tolerate the repeated lawbreaking in the territories for as long as it serves the interests of the settlers.

The size of Givat Ha'ulpana and the duration of its residents' use of the private Palestinian land on which it was built, with state support, are not mitigating circumstances but rather a badge of shame for the rule of law. The government's repeated postponements of its legal, moral and international obligations to evacuate the illegal outposts - particularly those built on privately owned Palestinian land - is no substitute for good policy.

If Netanyahu feels he lacks the political power to obey the High Court's directives he must dissolve the government and demand an electoral mandate for its peace and settlement policies. One can only hope that the public will shake off its apathy and cry out against stealing land from the helpless, breaking the law and spitting in the face of the justice system.

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