The Knesset is expected to reject today a bill which would allow retroactive legalisation of some West Bank settlement outposts, built without government approval. This would include five apartment buildings in the Ulpana neighbourhood of the Bet El settlement, which the Israeli High Court has ruled must be dismantled by 1 July. The attempt to overcome the court ruling with retroactive legislation is opposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, though it enjoys the support of some Knesset members from his own party. Netanyahu threatened last night to sack any minister who voted in favour of the bill.
The legislation is supported by the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, a small party with three seats in the governing coalition, which has threatened to leave the government if the bill does not pass. Netanyahu opposes the legislation for fear of the wider implications of changing the status of West Bank territory, including the problems such a move might face in international courts.
The five buildings in Ulpana affected by the High Court ruling, home to 30 families, are due to be demolished after the court determined they were illegally built on privately owned Palestinian land. The demolition of the buildings is vigorously opposed by settler activists, and finding a consensual solution has become a major challenge for Netanyahu. He has proposed that the buildings be moved to a new location elsewhere in Bet El.