Netanyahu Coalition Could Fall Apart if West Bank Neighborhood Is Dismantled, Says Vice PM

Moshe Ya'alon criticizes Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying 'he has a different political agenda to that of the government.'

Evacuating the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El could lead to the dissolution of the coalition, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Saturday at a meeting in Beer Sheva.

"We have said that we must not remove the neighborhood," said Ya'alon, who is also Israel's strategic affairs minister. "This is a neighborhood of 15 buildings with six apartments in each building, of completely normative people, and all of a sudden they are being told off because a Palestinian claimed the land belongs to him."

The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El .
Emil Salman

"We have said we would not remove this neighborhood. If that happens, the government will fall apart," continued Ya'alon.

The High Court ruled that the state must evacuate the neighborhood by May 1, but on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the State Prosecutors Office to examine whether a request can be lodged with the High Court to further delay the evacuation order.

The Ulpana neighborhood is comprised of multi-story buildings housing dozens of families.

Ya'alon also criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday, saying "he has a different political agenda to that of the government." He then added that, "Unfortunately, he is responsible for settlements in Yehuda and Shomron."

The vice prime minister was referring to the evacuation of settlers from a house in a Palestinian neighborhood of Hebron. Ya'alon said that in his opinion the government could have removed the settlers through discussions, rather than by forceful evacuation. "They were prepared to evacuate. There was no need to send in the counterterrorism unit of the police. The defense minister insisted on sending them in, and afterward we heard his people saying, 'Now the left camp will understand who its leader is'," said Ya'alon.

Ya'alon went on to say that the defense minister's actions are motivated by political considerations, adding that a survey published following the Hebron evacuation showed the Independence Party of which Barak is chairman was crossing the elections threshold.

Read this story in Hebrew.