Ministerial Committee on Settlements Approves Evacuation of Ulpana Residents

Ministers presented with a review of the agreement in which residents will leave their homes next week without stirring up disturbances and move to a temporary compound.

The Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs convened Wednesday and approved a compromise agreement that the residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood, whose homes were built on privately owned Palestinian land, will evacuate quietly.

The ministers were presented with a review of the agreement, reached between Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, the rabbi of the Ulpana neighborhood families, in which the residents will leave their homes next week without stirring up disturbances and move to a temporary compound being prepared for them in the Binyamin Regional Brigade base.

Eventually, a nearby Border Police base, comprising 18 dunams (4.5 acres ) of state land, will be evacuated and annexed to Beit El, and 300 apartments will be built there.

The court ruled last month that the families must be out and the homes removed by July 1.

Though some settler leaders and people close to Melamed had been taking a militant stance on the issue, in the end the settler community yielded.

In essence, the negotiations in recent weeks held by the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, Melamed and Erdan were fictitious. The settlers agreed to evacuate quietly, which is what they wanted in any case, and in return got promises they'd already gotten - although this time there was also a promise to keep them.

Two issues still remain hanging. One is a promise made by the government to move the Border Police base being evacuated to Migron, whose residents are also slated to be moved, so that there will at least be a "Jewish presence" there. Legally, the government can appropriate any land for military purposes, but the Supreme Court has already ruled that "military purposes" must indeed be strictly military, without mixing in any other considerations.

The second issue is the effort by settlers to secure permission to build homes on land confiscated for military purposes in 1970 and 1978. Many lands within the Beit El city limits are like that, and to date the State Prosecutor's Office refuses to allow construction there.

Once the Ulpana compromise is approved, the focus will turn to Givat Assaf, an illegal outpost also meant to be evacuated by the end of next week.

Read this article in Hebrew