Despite an Israeli High Court ruling that the Ulpana settlement neighborhood must be vacated and demolished because it is illegal, a Knesset bill that had been proposed to circumvent the court’s ruling has been stalled to allow more time for the government to settle the issue. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed his own Defense Minister to disobey the High Court and stall any demolitions.Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from right-wing ministers to use legislation to circumvent the High Court of Justice and prevent the evacuation of Beit-El’s Ulpana neighborhood. The High Court has given the State a July 1 deadline to demolish five houses in the neighborhood.
This latest development was predicted by the High Court itself, which, when making the ruling, had warned against any government-led efforts to introduce by-laws to get round the decision. .
During original enquiries into the settlement it was revealed that builders knew that the land was disputed and that the claims of buying in good faith were bogus. Indeed when the CEO of the development company, Yoel Tsur, was questioned by police about the authenticity of the sale and purchase of the land it came to light that the company and settlers were aware that the land legally belonged to Palestinians.
However none of this seems to matter in a country were “the tail wags the dog” as Netanyahu met with MK Yaakov Katz and MK Uri Ariel (both National Union) in an attempt to prevent the bill from being put to a vote. However no agreement was reached. ‘The destruction of houses in Ulpana can lead to the destruction of thousands of other homes in Judea and Samaria and this is something the public cannot withstand.’
However it seems one person is alert to the absurdity and illegality of High Court rulings being ignored and countered by government-led bills to overturn decisions that do not sit well with the ruling party.
The Defense Minister Ehud Barak has recognised the obvious that this ruling could set a dangerous precedent and will be used as a rod by the international community with which to beat Israel. He said ‘An enlightened state cannot legislate a law to abolish a concrete High Court ruling. The solution must honour the High Court’s ruling and strengthen Beit El at the same time.’
This would be the case in most democracies where the High Court of the land is a constraint on government which usually adheres to its rulings. However this does not seem to be the case in “democratic” Israel