Netanyahu turned to Foreign Ministry in concern over settlement law

Netanyahu hopes to minimize legislation’s diplomatic damage.

February 10, 2017 01:50
2 minute read.
HUNDREDS OF SETTLERS rally yesterday opposite the Knesset in support of the bill to legalize some 4,

HUNDREDS OF SETTLERS rally yesterday opposite the Knesset in support of the bill to legalize some 4,000 illegally built settlement homes. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A Foreign Ministry document approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and obtained by The Jerusalem Post tells foreign capitals: “The [settlement regulation] law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court.”

This finding reaffirms the widespread assumption that the premier was against the legislation that the Knesset passed on Monday, but acted to promote it out of fear of backlash from the political Right.

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The official document that was approved by the prime minister seeks to appease the international community that was adamant in its critique of the settlement regulation law, in what can be perceived as a diplomatic attempt at damage control.

The controversial law that retroactively legalized 4,000 settler homes that were built on privately owned Palestinian land was decried by the EU, the UN and multiple countries as a roadblock to a two-state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The document, among whose intended recipients are the prime ministers of several world powers, puts an emphasis on the fact that the law may very well be canceled by the High Court of Justice. The document was sent out by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Foreign Ministry to representatives across the globe to help them provide explanations for the law as well as some background.

It was crafted by Netanyahu’s chief diplomatic adviser Yonatan Shechter and the premier’s spokesman to the foreign media, David Keyes.

Written in English, the document includes eight main points, with the last clause determining that “every Knesset law can be reassessed by the Supreme Court.”
Israelis react to controversial law legalizing settlements

Netanyahu had expressed his opposition to the settlement regulation legislation in the past and stressed that it could create a rift between Israel and the international community. He also raised concerns that passing the law could expose the country to lawsuits at the International Court of Justice.

The emergence of this document days after the law was passed reaffirms the speculation that the prime minister and some Likud ministers who were against the measure voted in favor of it to fend off backlash from the Right.

It appears that those who were opposed to the law are placing their hopes on the High Court in the hopes that the latter would cancel the law and thus save Israel from turning into a pariah in the international arena that has not been wary of expressing its hostility toward Israel in the past.

The remaining seven clauses of the document provide legal explanations to the settlement regulation law, stressing that the Palestinian landowners will be financially compensated and that the use and ownership of the plots will be temporarily passed to the Israeli authorities until a fitting “diplomatic solution” can be reached.

The law, which enables the expropriation of lands that were privately owned by Palestinians, is also set to compensate the former landowners, paying them 125% of their properties’ worth.

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