Contentious settlement regulation bill passes first reading in Israel parliament
Gali Tibbon (AFP/File)
A controversial draft law that could lead to the legalization of nearly 4,000 settler homes in the West Bank passed a preliminary vote in Israel's parliament on Monday.
The bill, which was voted for by 60 deputies to 49 and still has to be adopted in three readings before becoming law, has already attracted strong international criticism.
Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett reached an agreement over outpost bill following a series of tough negotiations, over a contentious clause which specifically addresses the issue of the wildcat Amona outpost.
Amona, home to about 40 families, was built on lands privately owned by Palestinians, who successfully petitioned Israeli courts for the outpost's removal.
The previous version of the bill, introduced by Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, would retroactively legalize Amona – and also set a precedent allowing the government to confiscate private Palestinian land.
The bill however goes far beyond legalizing Amona and would allow an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish homes in the West Bank built on Palestinian land to be legalized.
Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that Amona must be evacuated and demolished by December 25.
In addition to removing the Amona clause from the agreement, Bennett and Netanyahu have agreed to relocate the community to a different side of the same hill that it is currently built on. The government is filing an appeal with the Supreme Court to delay the outpost's destruction another 30 days in order to build new accommodations for the families, said Ynet.
An official with the Jewish Home party told Ynet that "In such a case, the residents of Amona will remain on the mountain, but they'd have to move somewhere between dozens and hundreds of meters to a new location."
"Regulating the land will eliminate Peace Now's High Court petitions. The Regulation Bill regulates these lands so it would not be possible to petition against the communities in Judea and Samaria," the official continued, adding "
According to the Jerusalem Post, the families living in Amona have not yet agreed to the compromise. In recent weeks, they have vowed not to leave their homes.
“It’s totally not acceptable for us,” Elad Ziv, a resident of Amona told i24news. “We are human beings and we have lived here for two decades already. All my children grew up here.”
Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit has not yet approved the bill. If the Attorney General approves the amended bill, it could go to vote before the Knesset as early as Monday evening, said the Jerusalem Post.
The first reading of the bill passed with 58 votes in favor and 50 against.
(Staff with agencies)
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in