High-ranking politicians' fear of the political might of the settlers, and of their patrons in Likud and other right-wing parties, has exposed a treasure trove of creativity. Their latest invention, to which we can credit the threat of a proposal aimed at legitimizing the theft of private property in the territories, recommends relocating the five homes slated for demolition in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El to a site that is next to the settlement. According to cautious estimates, the move can be expected to cost NIS 5 million - for each house.
The Civil Administration had previously considered a proposal to relocate the residents to land that had been seized from the Palestinians for the establishment of an Israel Defense Forces base.
In an effort to soften right-wing criticism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that "lawsuits are not the way to cause damage to settlement." He must know that in the Ulpana case, as with the petition against the illegal incursion and construction in Migron and other outposts, the state prosecution has acknowledged that the settlers trespassed on private land, where they built dozens of structures without authorization.
In a country that adhered to the rule of law, the authorities would have been obligated to prevent the Ulpana neighborhood from being built in the first place, to keep people from moving in, and to remove any invaders. We should be applauding the peace groups and human rights organizations that helped the victims petition the High Court of Justice, which required the state to fulfill its legal and ethical obligation.
Instead of pledging that "for every home we evacuate we'll build 10 new homes," as Netanyahu said on Sunday, the prime minister should be vowing that the state will initiate the evacuation of dozens of other homes located on land belonging to others. The tax funds of law-abiding, hardworking Israelis are not supposed to be used to compensate trespassers and serial lawbreakers.
Promising to build new homes in the heart of the occupied territories, far beyond the 1967 lines, blatantly contradicts the commitment Israel made in the road map to freeze settlement construction and evacuate all the outposts built in the past decade. Above all, the settlement enterprise in the West Bank and the government's policy of impunity toward outposts are combining to sabotage the two-state solution that the prime minister committed three years ago to work toward implementing.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now