Yair Lapid spoke to the members of his recently founded party, Yesh Atid, on Thursday, and called for the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El to be demolished as per a Supreme Court decision from earlier this week.
During his speech, Lapid slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and accused him of fearing Moshe Feiglin, who faced off against him in the recent Likud leadership primaries.
“How is it that the State of Israel spent tens of billions of shekels on building settlements that according to your political thesis - according to the thesis of the right - will not be included in settlement blocs under any future agreement?” he said.
“Mr. Prime Minister, how do you explain the fact that your Minister of Transportation, Yisrael Katz, spent this year over a million shekels just on drawings of plans for a train in Judea and Samaria that he knows and that you know will never be built?” attacked Lapid. “More than a million shekels on drawings, Mr. Prime Minister. It's time you tell your ministers, ‘I am not prepared for you to be wasting public money to suck up to the Feiglins in the Likud Central Committee, because this is corruption, and a minister in my government cannot behave that way.”
Lapid claimed that the government is leading to a confrontation with the Supreme Court and said, “Let's see them stand up to the anti-democratic forces in Israel. Really stand up to them. Binyamin Netanyahu now has enough seats in the coalition to say to all the extremist forces that threaten the rule of law, ‘We will not tolerate it.’”
He added, “And they should now stand in full force behind the Supreme Court and say, ‘Even if we do not like the verdict on the Ulpana neighborhood, we will abide by the law! How did we reach this point? How did we get to this moment in which we need to stand up and call on the government to obey the law? How could it not be obvious? They should say, ‘We will abide by the law in full’, with no tricks, without buying time, without saying ‘I need time to think about it.’
“What is there to think about? The government's role is to prevent any potential conflict between the Knesset and the Supreme Court, because such a conflict would destroy the delicate fabric that's left of our life together here in the country,” said Lapid. “If Netanyahu felt that a coalition of seventy-something MKs was not enough for him to tell the Feiglins who control his party that he will not tolerate hurting the Supreme Court, so here - now he has a wall to wall coalition. He has nothing to fear. Israel is a nation of laws, and everyone should obey the law even if it's not to their liking.”
Lapid’s rants came after it was reported that Netanyahu will convene a special committee on Friday to discuss potential ways to avert the destruction of five homes in Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood.
The committee will include Netanyahu, newly minted Vice Premier and Minister Without Portfolio Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon and Minister Benny Begin.
Senior officials from the IDF Civil Administration have been asked to attend the meeting as well.
Netanyahu is said to be mulling two options: ordering an administrative seizure of the land the houses sit on by the IDF, or legislation.
Several senior ministers in the coalition have pushed for legislation that would mandate financial compensation or alternative land grants in lieu of eviction and demolition in cases where a court determines a claim to the land is valid.
However, the Supreme Court has ruled Israeli law does not apply in Judea and Samaria, which has never been annexed and remains under military rule.
Netanyahu's race to find a solution comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's rejection of a government petition asking for an additional 90 days in which to explore the matter.
The threatened homes were built on land purchased by Beit El several years ago. However, the seller turned out not to be the real owner and the latter filed suit to get his land back. The court ruled in his favor and the government agreed, without argument, to destroy the houses.
Meanwhile, Lapid has been left in the cold after the formation this week of a unity government between Kadima and the Likud. The unity government nixed plans for early elections, which means Lapid will remain outside the Knesset for a year and a half.