Netanyahu and Bennett.
(photo credit: ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP,REUTERS)
Coalition party leaders reached an agreement on how to move forward in their five-day stalemate over the settlement bill and the Amona outpost overnight Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought a compromise between Kulanu chairman Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Bayit Yehudi chairman Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The former would only allow his party to vote in favor of the settlement bill if it doesn’t harm the high court, meaning that the “Amona article,” overturning longstanding High Court of Justice rulings, thus postponing the outpost’s demolition, slated for December 25, would have to be removed. Bennett would only agree to remove the article if another solution was found for the outpost’s residents.
If Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit approves of the plan, the settlement bill, retroactively authorizing homes built on what is considered private Palestinian land, but without the “Amona article” could go to a first reading in the Knesset as soon as Monday evening.
The second part of the plan is to ask the High Court for Amona’s demolition to be postponed for 30 days, after which the outpost’s 40 families to be moved to the northern side of the hilltop on which they currently reside. Previously, Mandelblit has said that the solution could only last for eight months, but the government will seek ways to make it permanent.
MK Hotovely on legality of settlement resolution and regarding Amona
One option being considered as a way to allow the Amona residents to stay on their new part of the hill is to pass the settlement bill in a final vote before they are moved.
A Bayit Yehudi insider said another possibility is coming to a quiet understanding about Amona with President elect Donald Trump after his inauguration.
The settlement bill would legalize nearly 4,000 settlement homes built with some form of state cooperation on what is considered private Palestinian land by allowing the government to compensate landowners rather than raze the homes.
As of Monday morning, the residents of Amona have not agreed to the plan, though Bayit Yehudi sources said their MKs are making headway. Publicly, the Amona residents have vowed to resist any solution that will not allow them to stay where they are.
In light of the Amona residents’ powerful lobby, Bayit Yehudi MKs and officials tried to put a positive spin on the developments, despite not having the soon-to-be evacuees on board.
MK Motti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) says he feels “great sorrow” that the 40 families will have to be evacuated, but there was no political possibility of passing the settlement bill in a way that would legalize Amona. Still, he said, the agreement is a great achievement for those who value the Land of Israel.
“We have to look at the glass as half-full that by passing the broader settlement bill and the improved outline [to move Amona residents] allows Amona to stay on the hill top, and with God’s help, one day, to expand Amona by buying its land,” he said. “With the dear residents of Amona, who fought so hard, we can save and promote all Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel through the recognition achieved by the Knesset passing the [settlement bill], recognizing Jewish settlers as residents of the area and removing the threat of the court from settlements in Judea and Samaria.”
The opposition came out strongly against the plan.
Joint List MK Osama Sa’adi called it a “dangerous precedent” that is a “symbol of a rotting legal system.”
“The Attorney-General told me personally that he cannot freeze the demolition of homes in Arab towns built on private land because it allows them to break the law, but allows himself to bend the law for the interests of criminals and land-theives…to find them alternatives to live permanently against international law,” he stated.
MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) tweeted that this is a “government of hilltop youth.”