Minister Shalom Visits Ulpana Neighborhood
Vice premier Silvan Shalom on Friday visited the threatened Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El.
Shalom's visit came as the Netanyahu government petitioned the Supreme Court to postpone – and reconsider – the destruction of the neighborhood.
Shalom said he hopes a legal solution can be found to save the neighborhood, but stressed legislation remains a viable option.
"There cannot be a circumstance in which citizens who came here legally and hold deeds live under the threat of eviction," Shalom said. "The residents here are honest people and the state that sent them to settle the land must find a solution for them."
"We must treat all land disputes just as they would be were they to be resolved by a court within the Green line," he said. "There is no room to treat the people of Judea and Samaria worse than others.
Shalom added, "We see people disillusioned with the national camp, and the thought that more evictions will occur is unacceptable to us."
His remarks were taken as a reference to a controversial Supreme Court ruling under then-chief justice Dorit Benisch that all non-state land in Judea and Samaria was 'Arab Land' by default.
Under Benisch, the Supreme Court – which does not deal in evidentiary questions – failed to refer the case before it to a lower court competent to evaluate evidence of land ownership, such as deeds.
The ruling, which some critics say was tantamount to an ideological decision under color of law, put several communities which were built with government approval and assistance – often on land that was legally purchased or had been abandoned for generations – in the crosshairs of destruction.
The State Attorney has asked the Supreme Court to extend the deadline for destroying the Ulpana neighborhood for 90 days. During that time – should the court approve – the government would seek to find a legal solution that would avert the neighborhood's destruction.
Last Monday, a ministerial committee comprised of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Transportation Israel Katz, Minister Dan Meridor, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon and Education Minister Gideon Saar resolved to ask the court for the stay in order to find a way to save the community.
The spate of demolitions of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria under the Netanyahu government has brought the ruling coalition – lead by the traditionally pro-settlement Likud party – to a point of crisis.
Numerous ministers in the Likud and the heads of its coalition partners have said – should the Ulpana neighborhood be destroyed – the government will fall.