Thirty families have agreed to evacuate their homes in the West Bank outpost of Ulpana Hill voluntarily, avoiding a potential confrontation with Israeli authorities acting on a court order to evict them, according to Israeli media reports.
The agreement between the families and government comes nine days before the deadline for compliance with a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court that said the five buildings in the Ulpana Hill neighbourhood were built on privately owned Palestinian land, in violation of Israeli law, and must be vacated.
Last week, Israel’s Cabinet approved the establishment of a ministerial steering committee on settlement affairs. The move was seen as a gesture to right-wing members of the coalition after a bill to legalise the outposts was blocked. At first, the committee stirred controversy over the possibility of cutting into the Defence Ministry’s jurisdiction over settlement affairs. However, an examination of the details of the committee submission indicated that the Defence minister’s authority on West Bank issues remained untouched.
During the committee’s first meeting, held on Wednesday, Netanyahu briefed ministers on how the government plans to comply with the court ruling by removing the houses, relocating them and building 300 new apartments on land that will be vacated by an army base. Netanyahu told the members that the solution meets his two goals: “upholding the law and strengthening the settlement movement.”
The state now plans to ask the court for a three-month stay during which the houses will be relocated.