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Elkin: If No Solution Found – We’ll Legislate One

Coalition chairman Zeev Elkin promised Beit El the Likud-run government will not be 'hijacked' into destroying the Ulpana neighborhood
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/23/2012, 6:08 PM

MK Ze'ev Elkin
MK Ze'ev Elkin
Flash 90

Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) on Wednesday sent a letter to Beit El mayor Moshe Rosenbaum saying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will allow a vote on the "regulatory law" proposed by MK Yaakov Katz if an administrative solution is not found.

Elkin wrote, "The coalition leadership today met and decided, in light of the agreements with the prime minister, to enforce party discipline and reject ministers voting their own conscience on the regulatory law for two weeks.

"According to the agreement, the coalition is allowing two weeks for the Prime Minister to find a solution for the Givat Ulpana neighborhood without the need for legislation. If no such solution is found within a fortnight, coalition members will be granted the freedom to vote according to their conscience when the bill is reintroduced in two weeks time.

“If a solution is not found within two weeks, the Prime Minister does not reject a legislative solution.

"Meanwhile, the government today "froze" all the preparations for the destruction of the neighborhood.

"This prevents the government from being 'hijacked,' and stops the destruction of the neighborhood, so that should the matter be brought to a vote, the legislative process can run its course," Elkin concluded.

Meanwhile, National Union chairman MK Yaakov Katz withdrew his bill to legalize the Ulpana neighborhood – threatened with a court-ordered demolition – at the request of Beit El sage Rabbi Zalman Melamed.

Katz agreed to withdraw the bill after a stormy debate in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised him the government would not oppose the bill if he introduces it two weeks from now – allowing the government to find a solution to the problem posed by the court order.

Katz's bill would require compensation for those adversely affected by a legal determination that their homes, approved by previous governments, were built on private Arab land.

He withdrew the bill moments before a scheduled first vote on the proposed law, which would have circumvented the court order that was issued after the justices accepted a left-wing petition claiming five homes were built on private Arab land.

The neighborhood is located in Beit El, one of the leading national religious communities in Samaria (Shomron).

During the debate, Katz furiously attacked the Prime Minister and senior officials saying “Jews who forget their brothers have hearts of stone!"

“We will not stand witness to thousands of homes being destroyed,” Katz said. “Enough is enough!”

Minister Without Portfolio Binyamin Begin responded that the Knesset should "not be swayed by Katz’s emotional storm. Katz's words are felt by many. The Prime Minister, his ministers, and senior officials are trying to find a suitable solution to the Supreme Court order – so that whatever the government does do will not [again] be challenged in court."