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Bibi’s Uneasy Settlement Balancing Act

Supports court decision but pledges hundreds of new homes elsewhere

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A protest earlier this week in Ulpana.(Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Is this what the unity government was for? Little-noticed when Shaul Mofaz brought Kadima into the governing coalition—less noticed than the electoral strategy, the Iran dimension, and even perhaps the influence of wild card candidate Yair Lapid—is that about 24 hours before the shocking deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu had faced a rather hostile crowd at the Likud convention, which was flooded by settlers, who stood up for their champion, MK Danny Danon. “The festive event quickly turned into a sweaty performance of heckling, yelling and catcalls,” Haaretz’ Yossi Verter reported at the time.

It’s one month later, and Netanyahu opposed a right-wing bill to overturn the High Court decision concerning the Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement. The court found that Ulpana was illegally built on privately owned land and ordered it dismantled, and Netanyahu not only agreed to abide by the court’s ruling, he even opposed the bill that would (with questionable legality) have overturned it. Duly, the law got crushed, 69-22. And, duly, settlers voiced their anger at the Likud and Israeli leader.

Netanyahu said he opposed the law because it “would erode the rule of law by defying Supreme Court rulings ordering the destruction of such outposts,” according to the Washington Post, “and he warned that its passage would be condemned internationally.”

But even with his fancy coalition, Bibi still had to pander. Referring to plans to build 300 new homes in Beit El to house the Ulpana residents, he argued, “Instead of hurting settlement, settlement has been strengthened.” He went further, chastising “those who think they use the legal system to harm the settlements, [who] are mistaken, since the opposite is actually taking place.” (Psst, Michael Sfard, I think he’s talking about you.)

As Amir Mizroch points out, Netanyahu has tangled himself in a web of contradictions and arguable violations in international law, and may learn the second half of the adage about what happens when you try to please everybody. And the real fun has just begun: after Migron and Ulpana, there are three more settlements built on private land and under orders to evacuate.

The people whom Netanyahu is trying to appease by demonizing the left aren’t going to be fooled, however. Eliminating settled land is eliminating settled land. The only thing that could possibly make up for it, to them, is more settlements: such as, say, the 550—in addition to the 300 in Beit El—that Netanyahu approved yesterday. The good news is that Bibi seems so cynical it’s almost plausible that he doesn’t actually back the settlement project. The bad news is even if that were true (and it’s not), it wouldn’t matter because of how cravenly beholden to his base he is.

Israeli Lawmakers Defeat Right-Wing Bid to Save Unauthorized Settlements [WP]
Settlements to Get 850 New Housing Units [Ynet]
On Ulpana Story, More Questions Than Answers [Forecast Highs]
Related: How the Settlers Embarrassed Netanyahu, Again [Haaretz]
Earlier: Migron Lawyer: “It’s Our Brown v. Board”

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Marty Susman says:

Just as the lunatic Tea Party in the U.S. is slowly turning America into a Nation of super haves & 99% have nots, the lunatic religious right in Israel is in total control of the so called peace process meaning it will never happen as long as these right wingers have anything to say… If Bibi had one single ounce of guts in hos whole body he would go into the West Bank “out posts” & tear them down & bring the people who live their out in hand cuffs if need be…

The time is long past when a few crazy non working welfare collecting non military serving zealots should have been realed in & SHUT DOWN… Israel spends untold millions as well as watches people on both sides die because the right wing religious minority has the peace process by the throat… Show some guts Bibi, show some brain power, think of the future of the nation & get down to peace once & for all… STOP ALL OF THE RIGHT WINGERS NOW !!!!!!   

PhillipNagle says:

I fail to see what is so sacred about the 1948 cease fire lines that the arabs never recognized as permanent borders and violated in 1967.  If Israeli settlements intrude on private land, the owners should of course be compensated.  Unfortunately there are people who having no rational argument descend into name calling (using terms like lunatic is a perfect example).  The arabs have a had ample opportunity to make a permanent peace with the Israel, something they tell their own people, but not their supporters and appologists on the gullible left, they will never do.  It is up to Israel to create its own permanent solution on the ground.

    yevka says:

     You’re right. It is up to Israel to create its own solution on the ground through ethnic cleansing and settlement expansion.

      PhillipNagle says:

      Yes! Look how many Jews were driven out of arab countries and were not even allowed to take their belongings with them.  The arabs have already committed ethnic cleansing.  If you want someone to worry about try the Coptics in Egypt, the Bahai in Iran or the Christians in Nigeria.  Then we can tell the Peace Now zealots what real religious persecution is and the made up kind.

        yevka says:

         Advance onwards with ethnic cleansing of all Arabs from eretz Israel I always say. It’s a tireless endeavor, and if there is any world outcry, well, uh whatever…

yevka says:


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Bibi’s Uneasy Settlement Balancing Act

Supports court decision but pledges hundreds of new homes elsewhere

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