Ulpana Protest Tent in Jerusalem
Ulpana Protest Tent in JerusalemIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the occupants of the Ulpana Protest Tent across from the Prime Minister's Office late Monday night they will be able to stay for at least two more days -- at least until the Knesset votes on their issue.

Earlier in the evening, police had warned the protesters, who included some 30 hungers strikers -- that they would have to leave and close down the tent by midnight or be forcibly removed by police. Hundreds of additional activists were immediately recruited and began streaming to the site.

Jerusalem officials called for calm, Knesset members converged on the town of Beit El to discuss the matter, and by late in the evening, Barkat assured Danny Dayan, head of the Council of Judea and Samaria Communities (Yesha Council), that the protesters could remain.

The city extended the tent's license until at least Wednesday, when the Knesset plenum is to vote on the proposed Regulation Law that will determine the status of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood.

Activists are demanding the government approve the measure, which would allow residents of the neighborhood to remain in their homes by mandating that any land ownership challenge must take place within four years of the start of construction on the land.

The five apartment buildings in the neighborhood are slated for destruction by July 1, leaving about two dozen families homeless – some of whom having been living in the neighborhood for 10 years. All were authorized by the government to move into their homes, which they argue were purchased in good faith.

A High Court order was handed down following a petition by the far-left Peace Now movement together with an Arab who claimed ownership of the land after his cousin of the same name had already sold it to the town of Beit El, many years ago.