By Mark McMurray
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
JERUSALEM, Israel — On Tuesday, Israeli authorities began enforcing a court order calling for the dismantling of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
The evacuation comes after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that five of the fourteen buildings in Ulpana, housing thirty families in total, sit on Palestinian land. Temporary housing has been provided for the families in the larger town of Beit El, of which Ulpana is a suburb. Hoping to find a way to relocate the buildings instead of destroying them, the government asked the court to delay the removal of the structures, which was scheduled for July 1. The government’s request was denied, leading to the evacuation this week.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the building of additional housing in the disputed territory. Three hundred homes are to be built in Beit El, with an additional five hundred to be constructed in other parts of the West Bank. The announcement came as supporters of the settler movement, mainly right-wing critics within Netanyahu’s Likud party, spoke out against the removal of settlers from Ulpana.
Israel Harel, a senior fellow at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, has mixed feelings about the compromise of building new settlements in Beit El to replace the housing abandoned in Ulpana.
“In the general arena, the settlers’ movement made a big victory,” he said. “But there is a big inner debate about if this compromise should be accepted.”
Tzaly Reshef, a founder of Peace Now–an Israeli group opposing the settlements–believes there will be no two-state solution with the presence of settlements in Beit El. “While Netanyahu may say from here to eternity that the Israelis will negotiate, the Israelis will compromise, what he does on the ground shows his real intentions,” he said. Experts believe the settlements in Beit El would become a part of the Palestinian state if the two-state solution moves forward.
Israel captured the land where the settlement is located as a result of the Six-Day War in 1967. The decision to create new settlements in the area fifteen miles north of Jerusalem has been criticized by the Palestinians and the U.S. They argue that building new structures within the disputed territory undermines the peace process. Critics of the East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, citing the 2003 road map for peace and Israeli law, also claim that the buildings are illegal under both local and international law.
For further information, please see:
BBC News – West Bank Jewish Settlers Leave Ulpana Outpost – 26 June 2012
New York Times – Settlers Begin Evacuation of a West Bank Outpost – 26 June 2012
Times of Israel – No Violence As Fifteen Families Leave Homes at Givat Ulpana Outpost – 26 June 2012
Jewish Journal – Ulpana Residents Agree to Leave Peacefully – 20 June 2012