Begin: Settler building on private Palestinian land ‘unjust’

“It’s not just and it’s not right,” Bennie Begin says in response to efforts regarding new legislation allowing building on Palestinian land.

September 19, 2016 02:01
3 minute read.

Amona. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)


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The Regulations Act would make it acceptable to build on private Palestinian land, MK Bennie Begin warned as he spoke against a push by most Likud politicians to pass legislation retroactively authorizing some 2,000 illegally built settler homes.

“It’s not just and it’s not right,” Begin told The Jerusalem Post. “It won’t pass the Knesset. It’s an illegal law and you can’t do it.” Such legislation would “stain” the settlement enterprise, he warned.

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“I say this as someone who supports the rights of Jews to build in their birthplace – it’s an illegal law, and so it is not just, and it is not right. And from my perspective you can’t do it, as someone who supports the need to allow Jews to build in their birthplace, including in Judea and Samaria.”

The often quiet parliamentarian took to the airwaves on Sunday and conducted a number of public interviews on the matter.

Begin is one of only two Likud parliamentarians among 30 to publicly oppose the legislation, which is designed to prevent left-wing groups from petitioning the High Court of Justice to demolish illegally-built settler homes.

Likud MK Anat Berko also expressed reservations about the legislation, which she holds as illegal under international law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only member of his party not to state an opinion, but he has shied away from such legislation in the past.

At issue for Likud politicians, as well as for the Bayit Yehudi party which also supports the legislation, is a High Court of Justice order that the IDF must evacuate the entire Amona outpost of some 40 homes by December 25. Similar High Court rulings have mandated that nine illegal homes in the nearby Ofra settlement must be demolished by February 2017, and 15 homes in the Derech Ha’avot outpost by March 2018.

All the rulings deal with homes that were built on private Palestinian property. Right-wing politicians fear for the status of some 2,000 unauthorized settler homes, only some of which are built on private Palestinian land.

The bill, in those instances, calls for the landowner to be given compensation.

On Saturday night, 24 of 30 Likud faction members signed a petition that called for the Knesset to approve a bill – called the Regulations Act – that would authorize all the homes, including all 40 modular homes in the Amona outpost.

Minister-without-portfolio Tzachi HaNegbi did not sign, nor did Likud parliamentarians Avi Dichter and David Biton, but all three support the bill.

The petition places the Likud politicians at odds with Netanyahu, who has preferred to seek alternative solutions.

The Likud petition also puts the party at odds with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has already stated that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Likud politicians initially drafted the bill but removed it from consideration because it had not yet received the support of Netanyahu, and because Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman appeared to offer an alternative solution.

Liberman wanted to seize nearby abandoned Palestinian property so he could relocate the outpost to an alternative spot very close to where Amona is now, on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement.

Palestinians have since turned to the Civil Administration to claim ownership of 24 out of 35 property lots in question.

Initial attempts to make use of the remaining 11 lots for relocation of the outpost have not yet proved successful, in part because the access road would have to be built on private Palestinian property. Some of the property lots in question are also not contiguous to one another.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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