The Ulpana settlement show goes on. Yesterday, the first fifteen families were evacuated from their homes in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of the settlement of Beit El, after the government upheld a Supreme Court ruling that the five buildings were built on private Palestinian lands and must be removed.
The families, who make up roughly half of those who are slated to leave, moved to another part of the same settlement just a short distance away. There was no violence, and no security forces, according to the Times of Israel report. The remaining families are also expected to leave peacefully, following a negotiation between the settlers and the government.
This completes the first means of strengthening the settlements under the banner proudly announced by the Prime Minister during the tense stand-off between the government and the Supreme Court several weeks ago. The goal, Netanyahu stated in no uncertain terms, is to strengthen Israel’s grip over the West Bank through settlements.
In this first approach, all outposts fighting legal challenges by Palestinians will either be given blanket amnesty by some sort of government-concocted policy, or they will continue to lose legal battles and as ‘punishment,’ will be moved into existing settlements. This will ensure that the number of settlers in the disputed land that could have gone to a Palestinian state will never change, and will only grow.
The second approach is a campaign of spin and image. The settlers are making a great statement of their victimhood. According to the Times of Israel:
Four families had said they would not leave of their own volition, but would allow themselves to be carried out, in a last-ditch passive protest. On Monday, the families published a letter saying that while they were leaving without violence, they were not abandoning the hillside voluntarily. “We’ve reached the point of no return. We’re not happy, and we’re not leaving willingly,” Yair and Rachel Zadok, one of the couples being evacuated, told Army Radio Tuesday morning.
The country will remember how traumatized the Gush Qatif settlers were (from the Gaza Strip), and its guilt over their fate, and people will project that onto the Beit El settlers. Except that unlike the Gush Qatif settlers, these folks are moving basically down the block; they do not have to give up their community, their jobs and livelihoods, nor their fat government subsidies coming from my taxes. Most of all – they get to continue implementing the main goal of an Israeli takeover of all the land with no end in sight. So that point about “we’re not happy”? I don’t buy it.
The third means by which the government will achieve its goal is by portraying the evacuation as a proud symbol of democracy, a commendable capitulation of the government to the Supreme Court. Sadly, some less than astute observers have swallowed this tale.
But here is an indisputable truth: The Prime Minister and various settler leaders tried to beat the public over the head with the absurd line that “the public cannot tolerate” the evacuation of the neighborhood. Funny: yesterday, not only did the public tolerate this, the public hardly even noticed it.
And the other undeniable truth is that the whole show about implementing the evacuation serves one purpose only: Settlement expansion, at the expense of any form of peaceful, just and safe solution, ever.