Israeli forces evict settlers in Hebron
So much for the showdown accompanied with glaring headlines plastered all over the MSM yesterday. In a political dance that is making my head spin, on orders from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, settlers were evicted from the building in the heart of Hebron yesterday while Netanyahu was announcing new housing tenders for hundreds of new dwellings as well as authorizing retroactive legalization of three illegal outposts! What a set up!
Connecting these illegal outposts to existing settlements solidifies Israel’s clutch on more Palestinian land. With the distraction of the inflammatory settler encroachment into the heart of Hebron and those settlers’ eviction grabbing the world’s attention under the guise of ‘the rule of law,’ are we supposed to not notice who just won out here? The settlers!
Is this an election season gambit? There’s more here than meets the eye.
Israeli police and border officers swiftly evicted a group of Jewish settlers from a contested house in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron Wednesday on the orders of the minister of defense, officials said, though at the same time, the Israeli government signaled strong support for more Jewish settlement in areas it captured in the 1967 war.
Among the signs of official support, the Ministry of Housing posted new tenders on its website for plots for the construction of more than 800 new apartments in Har Homa, a Jewish development across the 1967 lines in south-east Jerusalem, and in Givat Zeev, a settlement north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.
In a move that appeared aimed at mollifying the settlers, but that is likely to infuriate Palestinians, Netanyahu said shortly before the Hebron eviction that he had asked the attorney general to “find a solution’’ for a neighborhood of the Beit El settlement that was built without proper permits and is supposed to be demolished by court order by May 1.
He said he also intended, together with the defense minister, to see the necessary permits to retroactively legalize three other West Bank settler outposts that went up without authorization.
In a rare note of discord within Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition, rightist ministers blamed the defense minister, Ehud Barak, for ordering the eviction, accusing him of trying to set the government’s agenda. Mr. Barak leads a small centrist faction in a government that is otherwise dominated by right-wing and religious parties.
Amos Harel in Haaretz explains the political infighting and maneuvering:
Wednesday’s headlines declared otherwise, but the final countdown has begun. The hullabaloo surrounding the eviction of the house in Hebron reveals that Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners sense that elections can’t be far off.
While Netanyahu confidently claims he won’t call early elections, his government is losing control. Likud ministers and MKs were quick to show their solidarity with the settlers in Hebron, and the defense minister wasted no time in sending the police’s Special Patrol Unit to evict the invaders before Passover. Meanwhile, Likud ministers swiftly slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak, conveniently playing down the prime minister’s role in authorizing the eviction.
Netanyahu was quick to declare his commitment to the rule of law, but in the same breath he said he would legalize three illegal outposts by connecting them to existing settlements. Still, Likud ministers from Limor Livnat to Ya’alon wasted no time in attacking Barak; Ya’alon said the defense minister had manipulated Netanyahu. Barak associates countered by accusing Ya’alon of “very peculiar behavior.”
The problem is that the legal problems with the settlers won’t go away. Barak promised the High Court of Justice to empty several large apartment buildings in Beit El by May 1, while Netanyahu said yesterday he would seek a way to legalize them. And the Migron problem is yet to be solved.
Color me suspicious, but the upshot of this one-week-long dance with the Hebron house settlers is that the world is left with the impression of Israeli forces easily overpowering settlers who bend at the government’s will, as opposed to militant fanatics screaming and clutching in the civil war between military and settlers (we thought was inevitable). But as Israel stages this showpiece of following the rule of law…what do we get but illegal outposts now cloaked in legality.
Had the GOI just announced it was grabbing a whole bunch more land it would have been problematic, it wouldn’t have left the impression there was some kind of ‘balance and compromise’. It almost seems like there was political cooperation going on.