Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein stated on Sunday that the option of demolition of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El is not on the agenda.
“This option is not on the agenda,” Edelstein told Arutz Sheva. “The Israeli government has expressed its position. The Likud ministers expressed their opinion on this last week, and even the Prime Minister said that this is a decree that the public cannot stand.”
He emphasized that the government must now discuss how to ensure the demolition does not take place.
“The question is whether we make a decision to take the demolition off the agenda or pass the law which legalizes the communities in Judea and Samaria, but these are just questions at the practical level,” said Edelstein. “However, there is no danger that hovers over the residents.”
He addressed the question of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has expressed determination to demolish the neighborhood and said, “I will not add any words beyond what has already been said about Barak’s performance in all areas and in particular on this issue, but yet with all his arrogance, I do not think he'll go out to destroy the Ulpana neighborhood at two in the morning. We’re not talking about a shed or a caravan here. This, as everyone already knows well, is a neighborhood in a city where normative families received mortgages to live. You cannot take action against them behind their back.”
Edelstein expressed confidence that Barak will not carry out the demolition and will not pass the electoral threshold in the next election, despite his actions in Judea and Samaria which have been viewed as an attempt to gather votes from the left side of the political spectrum.
“Even if, G-d forbid, he destroys Jerusalem he will not pass the threshold,” said Edelstein. “I'm not worried in this regard. Barak is an exception in the current government and I would say that even ministers who did not set out to protect the neighborhood, such as Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, do not want conflict and destruction. There is wall to wall agreement here, so with all due respect for the Minister of Defense, he will fail to realize his plan.”
Earlier on Sunday, Barak said that there was enough land in Beit El to allow residents of the Ulpana neighborhood to move into homes that had no legal questions surrounding them, as opposed to attempting to remain in homes that the High Court has declared do not belong to them.
Barak said that the High Court's ruling was not a technical matter, but an important principle of the rule of law, which the state must uphold if it is to call itself a modern democracy.
With that, Barak said that “the question of ownership of the land is still being adjudicated. If it turns out that the land is indeed private, there will be no choice but to evict the residents or to buy the land.”
The residents slammed Barak for suggesting that they move to “alternate homes” in Beit El. “Residents of the neighborhood recognized Ehud Barak for the good that he did as Prime Minister, when he provided benefits for residents of Beit El, paved roads in the town, and connected residents to infrastructure.”
With that, they said, “We are not chess pieces for Ehud Barak to play with, where he builds a house in one location and demolishes one in another. Nowhere in Israel, or in the world, do they tear down thriving neighborhoods, even if it turns out an error was made,” the residents said. Barak should do likewise and acknowledge the residents' rights to remain in their homes.”
On Saturday, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon said Barak's "private political agenda" threatened the "dissolution of the government."
Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, who was a guest in Beit El's threatened Ulpana neighborhood on Friday, said that "Barak is using the Defense Ministry as political tool against the settlers."
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.