Bibi stalls bills legalizing Ulpana


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two bills that would have legalized an outlying neighborhood of a West Bank settlement, bypassing a Supreme Court decision, were stalled in the Knesset by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu asked lawmaker Zevulun Orlev of the Jewish Home Party to delay introducing his bill for two weeks while he looked for other ways to settle the issue of Ulpana, outside the outside the Beit El settlement. Lawmaker Yaakov Katz of the National Union Party also agreed to withdraw his bill, according to reports.

Netanyahu has instructed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to halt all preparations for the demolition of Ulpana during the two weeks, Ynet reported.

The bills were in response to a Supreme Court deadline of July 1 to demolish five apartment buildings that are home to some 30 families in Ulpana. The court ruled last September that the neighborhood should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. Earlier this month the court upheld its ruling when it rejected the Israeli government’s request to delay the razing of Ulpana.

Under Orlev’s bill, a Palestinian landowner must contest Jewish construction on his property in court within four years of the start of building or the completed buildings would not have to be razed.

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