Netanyahu at Likud meeting
Netanyahu at Likud meetingReuters

The “Regulation Bill” to legalize the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El is “Judgment Day” for the Likud, warn Women in Green nationalists.

The bill is scheduled to come to a vote Wednesday afternoon, and it is not yet clear if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will allow his party's Knesset members to vote as they wish or if he will impose discipline and demand they do not vote in favor of the proposed law.

He has argued that the law, which would circumvent a standing order from the High Court to destroy the five buildings involved, would ignite anger at Israel from the international community and cause long-term damage to the nationalist enterprise for a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

"If the law does not pass -- Givat HaUlpana, Givat Assaf, Amona and many other communities in Judea and Samaria will topple like dominoes. Thousands of Jews will be expelled, Women in Green said in a statement.  

It declared that failure to pass the bill would be equivalent to “Disengagement Plan, Part 2” referring to the mass expulsions of more than 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif, northern Gaza and four northern Samaria communities in 2005.

“Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud ministers who will vote against the law or absent themselves from the vote must be punished, politically, once and for all,” said Women in Green director Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover.

“A statement must be made immediately, that if the Regulation Law is not passed on Wednesday, every true lover of the Land of Israel will leave the Likud party permanently. If the law fails to pass, this will prove once and for all that registering as a member of Likud was a terrible mistake that shattered the national political camp. The whole idea of ‘influencing from within’ will be proven as wrong. The national camp gave Bibi Netanyahu eight Knesset seats, yet he has no problem tearing down the communities in Judea and Samaria”.

They said a new party of united nationalists could win 18 seats in the next Knesset.

The affected Ulpana homes, where 30 families have been living for up to 12 years, was not an issue until Peace Now filed a court motion in recent years that said the houses were built on land owned by a Palestinian Authority Arab, who the petition said did not sell the land as claimed by the builder and residents. The petition does not apply to other Ulpana neighborhood homes.

The court accepted the complaint even though there has been no conclusive proof that the Arab owns the land. Possession of most of the land in Judea and Samaria was not registered in the days of Jordanian rule, and the Palestinian Authority has accepted Jordanian law that calls for the death penalty of any Arab who sells property to Jews.

As a result, many land transactions to Jews have been conducted through third parties, leaving open the possibility for lawsuits claiming that the sale was a forgery.

Matar and Katsover said they do not blame the court for the current crisis but instead point their fingers at Prime Minister Netanyahu. “If not for his weakness, he could have easily saved the communities,” they said.

The Prime Minister has proved himself to be a master politician in terms of holding together and even expanding his coalition, but he may have misjudged the intensity of the opposition to the proposed expulsion of the families from the Ulpana neighborhood.

It is located in Beit El, one of the largest Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, home to leaders of the nationalist movement and one of the most widely known names both to Israelis and to Jews in the Diaspora.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu thought the Ulpana neighborhood could be dismantled and the residents expelled without major opposition, he has been proven mistaken. Yisrael Beytenu MKs have said they will vote for the bill, although they may abstain or vote against it if Netanyahu issues an ultimatum. Shas has said its MKs will vote against the bill if there is an ultimatum. Both parties are coalition members.

A hunger strike is continuing Tuesday, another march to the Knesset is scheduled and special prayers are to be held in synagogues  throughout the country. Rabbis have instructed that Chapters 20 and 140 from the Book of Psalms be recited after daily prayers. People also are encouraged to increase charity donations for the merit of the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood.