Gov't Not Determined to Prevent Ulpana Demolition

Yesha Council Chairman: There is a lack of determination by the government to solve the issue of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El.

Elad Benari,

Danny Dayan
Danny Dayan
Flash 90

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said on Thursday that there is a lack of determination in the political echelon to solve the issue of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El.

The Ulpana neighborhood is one of several Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria over which the threat of demolition hangs after a Supreme Court ruling. The communities were built with state cooperation, but the lands on which they stand are disputed. Legal experts have said that a reasonable solution would be compensation to any claimants who could prove ownership, since the homes have been standing for many years without being contested.

Beit El was founded in 1977 - ten years after the Six Day War - when a group of Jewish families took up residence in open land adjacent to the local IDF base.

A religiously observant community associated with the religious Zionist movement, Beit El was granted municipal status in 1997.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva on Thursday, Dayan said, “It is inconceivable injustice to destroy five apartment buildings with six apartments in each, where the best residents of the country are living, who were encouraged by Israeli governments, including financial encouragement, to come and settle there.”

Dayan called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to show more determination and work to prevent the demolition. “We need to demand from the political system and from the political and executive branches, i.e. the prime minister and his ministers, to show determination. I hear in conversations with ministers and other officials that there is no desire to carry out the destruction in Ulpana. But this statement is inadequate, it must be translated into practice, and this requires determination on their part.”

He added, “Until this moment, unfortunately, I cannot say I have seen the determination that is required by the political leadership. I hope this picture will change in the coming days.

“I do not think legislation is needed to resolve the issue, a government decision is enough,” said Dayan. “Legislation should only be used if decisions are not implemented. A similar decision has already been made in the past: we were in a similar position with nine houses in Ofra, and it was actually Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in the previous government of Ehud Olmert, who made a decision and informed the Supreme Court that after the government weighed all the considerations, it decided to change its position.”

He noted that the ball is now in the Prime Minister’s court. “The Prime Minister can immediately change the neighborhood’s legal situation. Take the unfortunate incident of Beit Hamachpela in Hevron. They told us it was illegal. If anything was illegal it was that the Defense Minister issued an order that declared the area a closed military zone. Here the exact opposite has to happen, because in this case there is a statement by the State that the buildings must be demolished. This statement has to be cancelled and turned around so that the legal situation will change. The tools are in the hands of the government and in the hands of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. By the way, I think they also want to achieve these results.”

Earlier this week, Likud Cabinet ministers demanded action and not words, after Netanyahu promised “we will find a solution” for the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and other Jewish communities threatened with expulsion. 

In response to the Prime Minister’s statement that “we will find a solution”, Education Minister Gideon Saar warned that if he does not, the Knesset will take action and pass a law to legalize the communities.