Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said on Wednesday that he will vote in favor of a law to legalize Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods – even at the cost of being dismissed from his position.
Edelstein made the remarks during a visit with two residents of Amona who have begun a hunger strike outside the Israeli Supreme Court over what they termed a “mini Disengagement” in Judea and Samaria.
If the proposed law passes it will legalize the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, which the Supreme Court recently ruled must be demolished by July 1. The bill would mandate solving cases in which homes were built on private Arab land through compensation rather than destruction.
“Maybe there are some things that I have not thought of and perhaps the Prime Minister will come up with a solution, but right now I cannot see a solution other than legislation,” Edelstein told Arutz Sheva after the visit. “The option of demolition is not acceptable and the Prime Minister has said that a demolition is a decree which the public cannot stand.”
He stressed, “I will vote in favor of the law to legalize the communities even if it costs me my chair and I lose my job. It's not a rebellion, it’s a natural choice - a choice that is not contrary to either the Likud’s or the Prime Minister’s platform. I cannot be a party to demolition of homes in Judea and Samaria. I emphasize that I hope the Prime Minister will find a solution, and if not, I hope he will allow ministers to vote and act according to their conscience.”
Last week it was speculated that Likud ministers – including Silvan Shalom, Gilad Erdan and Moshe Ya’alon – may vote in favor of the law, contrary to the position of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has already made it clear that he opposes the law and has postponed a vote on it by refusing to allow his ministers to vote freely on the issue.
Last week it was reported that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are working out a solution for the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, which would involve the granting of permits for new construction in Beit El, after years in which no such construction was allowed. The Ulpana neighborhood will be torn down, however.
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior IDF officer relayed a message to residents of the Ulpana neighborhood that they need to leave their homes.
Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Haggai Mordechai met with Beit El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum and asked him to ask the residents to voluntarily leave their homes, in order to avoid a confrontation.
IDF officials later said that Barak had not approved the meeting between the Judea and Samaria Division Commander and the mayor of Beit El.
Referring to the meeting, Edelstein said, “The visit is unclear. As per agreements with the Prime Minister, it was decided that there will be no ‘unilateral’ steps. I can say that a senior IDF officer said that the meeting was conducted against orders by the Ministry of Defense.”