Two native English-speaking families whose homes on a disputed West Bank hilltop have been slated for demolition in less than two months by Israel’s Supreme Court are expressing a range of emotions - from uncertainty, resignation and cautious optimism, to disappointment in a government and legal system they say has let them down.
“This isn’t a hilltop,” says Alex Traiman, a 32-year-old filmmaker from New York City, who politely but firmly corrects a reporter visiting their home in the Givat Ha’ulpana community of Beit El. “This is a neighborhood.”
Givat Ha’ulpana, adjacent to Ramallah, is just a stone’s throw from where it is believed the biblical patriarch Jacob dreamed of a ladder with ascending and descending angels. But its pastoral scene belies the tension that is brewing beneath the green gardens and rugged mountain terrain.
Traveling up the idyllic mountain, with the 360-degree panoramic view of a smattering of Palestinian villages and Jewish communities, there’s no tangible sign that five two-story homes encased with facades of Jerusalem stone are at the heart of a bitter legal controversy threatening to destabilize the Likud government. As a result, the Supreme Court, which has ruled the structures were illegally built on Palestinian land, is now on a collision course with legislators in the Knesset and senior government ministers, who now plan to circumvent that ruling.
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