Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday, accusing him of working against the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria for political gains.
Katz made the comments during a visit to the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, which is to be demolished by May 1 under a Supreme Court ruling. The neighborhood was built with state cooperation, but the land on which it stands is disputed.
During his visit to the neighborhood, Katz met with local residents and heard their concerns that the government will demolish their homes, in a way that is similar to the destruction of homes in Gush Katif.
At the end of the visit, Katz attacked Barak and said, “If Barak works against the government’s position, the Prime Minister must fire him. He took the Ministry of Defense and turned it into a political tool at the expense of the Jewish residents. There are other ways to gather votes.
“I came here to express a clear position that the houses should not be destroyed,” added Katz. “It is necessary to update the government's position regarding the Ulpana neighborhood.”
He announced that he was working to establish a Ministerial Committee for Settlement Affairs, and said the committee would be a formal body that will allow government ministers to express their views.
“Of course, the Defense Ministry will be part of the committee it but it will not be the sole factor that will determine policy,” said Katz.
Ministers have informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that if the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El is destroyed, his coalition will follow.
The warning came during a cabinet meeting in which the timetable for Judea and Samaria demolitions was revealed.
Several ministers from Netanyahu’s own Likud party have warned that they will not wait for May 1, but rather, will force a stop to demolition plans through legislation. A law is in the works that would ensure that homeowners can remain on their property if a claim to the land is made several years after purchase. The law would provide claimants with monetary compensation in place of the original property, as is the practice in other countries.
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.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)