Amy Teibel

JERUSALEM: The thought of having Jewish settler homes demolished on his watch has propelled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promise a radical — some say ludicrous — way to sidestep a Supreme Court order to raze 30 apartments built illegally in the West Bank.

After it evacuates settlers from five apartment buildings in the Ulpana outpost this week, the government has promised to slice the structures from their foundations and move them to a West Bank site nearby, where they will be reassembled.

Construction specialists say transplanting the buildings — three-story concrete structures faced with stone and topped with red tile roofs — would squander huge sums of money and be infinitely more complicated than destroying and rebuilding them.

Netanyahu came up with the plan after the government was ordered to dismantle the outpost. People close to the prime minister say he believes that preserving the homes will ease the pain for the families.

The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the government earlier this year to destroy Ulpana after determining it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

“By the first of July, the plan is to have the buildings vacated and sealed,” a government official said this week, speaking on condition of anonymity about a project whose details have not been finalized. “The prime minister said he wanted these buildings relocated, not destroyed.”

The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future state. The Palestinians, along with virtually all of the international community, consider all Israeli settlements to be illegal or illegitimate.

In Israel, any talk of uprooting settlements, now home to more than 500,000 Israelis, is contentious.