Coalition chairman and Likud faction chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, saying Barak’s decision to evict the residents of Beit Hamachpela in Hevron was made only for political reasons.
Elkin’s criticism came after it was reported that Barak ordered that a poll be conducted after he ordered the eviction, to see how this decision affected the chances of his Atzmaut (Independence) party to pass the electoral threshold.
“Finally the cat is out of the bag,” Elkin told Arutz Sheva. “I have been arguing for several days that Barak has given up on the idea that he would be guaranteed a spot on the Likud’s list to the Knesset, so he decided to try to pass the threshold by getting votes on the left through hurting 350,000 Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.”
It was reported on Thursday that an internal poll conducted on Wednesday by the Independence party shows that if elections were held today, the party would get three seats. Previous polls had Independence with only two seats in the Knesset.
Sources close to Barak said that the poll commissioned shows that his decision to evacuate the house in Hevron was able to attract new supporters to his party.
“There is no doubt that the incident in Hevron had an effect on voters in the center-left who were waiting to see Barak makes such a move,” the sources said. “We are satisfied because it is a change in trend and the new trend is quite clear and positive.”
Elkin said in response, “We must not allow the residents of Judea and Samaria to be the hostages of a political game played by a failed cynical politician. We must prevent Barak from being in charge of the treatment of residents of Judea and Samaria.”
The eviction on Wednesday came on Barak’s orders in violation of an agreement between his bureau, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, and Minister Without Portfolio Benny Begin to delay the move until April 26 – after Passover.
Of particular note is that Barak's push to evict the families at Beit Hamachpela was based not on a court challenge to the purchase, but on the families’ failure to properly validate the sale with his ministry.
The families say they moved in after the sale fearing the building – uninhabited – would be occupied by local Arabs before the Civil Administration validated their purchase.
The government had stated it would “establish the legal facts of the case” before taking action.
Barak, however, decided to go ahead with the eviction saying he would “protect the rule of law” and would not allow “settlers to establish facts on the ground” while his ministry investigated the sale.