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Daily Israel Report

Ulpana Residents, Government Sign Agreement

Residents of the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El agree to leave their homes non-violently in exchange for 300 new homes.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/20/2012, 12:10 AM

Ulpana residents
Ulpana residents
Courtesy of Ulpana neighborhood

Residents of the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, whose homes were ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court, agreed on Tuesday evening to leave their homes willingly and non-violently. In return, the government will keep its promise to build 300 new homes in Beit El.

The agreement between the residents and the government was signed after ten days of negotiations between government representatives and representatives from Beit El, including the town’s rabbi, Rav Zalman Baruch Melamed, and its mayor Moshe Rosenbaum.

The agreement includes the construction of 300 housing units in Beit El in a defined and agreed upon schedule and the establishment of a ministerial committee that will deal with issues regarding the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron). The committee is to ensure that, in future, no decisions to demolish neighborhoods or communities are made by the government, the Attorney General or the Ministry of Defense.

The agreement also stipulates that the homes on the disputed land will be moved to a new location without being destroyed.

The residents of the Ulpana neighborhood clarified in a statement on Tuesday evening that they were accepting the agreement “with a heavy heart.”

“Following a consultation by Rabbi Melamed with community leaders and representatives of the neighborhood this evening, it was decided to accept the government’s plan with a heavy heart,” the residents said.

“We wish to repeat the words of Rabbi Melamed, that the proposed outline in return for construction to which the public is entitled anyway and the government is required to deliver anyway, in exchange for an agreement to remove the homes, is like telling a father that his son will be taken away from him in exchange for ten others,” they added. “The pain of the houses that are being taken away will not cease and the stain will not be removed from the government.

“However, we are peaceful people,” the residents emphasized. “Struggles between brothers tear the entire public, and our community in particular, apart. We, of course, stand behind the rabbi’s decision that the 33 families will leave their homes in a way that obviates the need to see things that none of our people wish to see.”

On Monday, Rabbi Melamed told his students at the Beit El yeshiva that the struggle to settle the land of Israel is important, but added, “Sometimes, we must understand that there are battles that cannot be won.”

“Therefore,” he continued, “it would be best to use this terrible low point for the betterment of all of Judea and Samaria.”

Rabbi Melamed called to avoid violence of any kind even if Beit El leaders do not succeed in reaching an agreement with the government.

Coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that there is no legal obstacle that would impede the construction of hundreds of new homes in Beit El.

“This obstacle that legal sources tried to put up has been dealt with… There were difficulties, but ultimately there are those who were elected to set policy, and those who were chosen to advise,” he said.