Right-wing politicians are resuming a legislative effort to retroactively legalize some 2,000 unauthorized settler homes, including 40 in the Amona outpost ordered demolished by the High Court of Justice by December 25.
“There is no legal impediment to passing such a law” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Monday night to a gathering of Likud activists in Amona on the importance of approving a bill, called the “Regulations Act,” that would comprehensively deal with the issue.
MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), who co-chairs the Land of Israel caucus, pledged that “the Regulations Act will pass three readings in the Knesset during this upcoming session.”
Lawmakers had backed away from actively trying to pass the bill after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit stated the legislation was unconstitutional.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has preferred to tackle the issue of unauthorized settler homes outside the Knesset by advocating a piecemeal approach by the Higher Planning Council, which has retroactively legalized settler homes in specific communities as part of the normal planing process.
Lawmakers have argued that Netanyahu’s approach is perilous, because it allows left-wing groups to petition the High Court of Justice against such building. The High Court order to demolish the Amona outpost in December and nine homes in the nearby Ofra settlement in February had sparked the legislative debate.
A plan put forward by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to relocate the Amona outpost to a nearby tact of land was derailed when a dozen Palestinians last week came forward to claim ownership of the tract.
While Liberman was pledging Monday night to uphold the court’s ruling with regard to Amona when speaking with students at Ariel University, the Likud politicians declared in Amona that the only option before them is legislation, even if this means going against Mandelblit.
Hotovely said bluntly that those who say that there are legal issues with the bill are “lying.”
The bill deals with all unauthorized settler homes in Judea and Samaria.
In cases where the structures are built on private Palestinian property, such as in Amona or Ofra, it would compensate the landowners.
“Attempts to solve this problem through other legal tools have failed.
The other option that is left here is legislation,” Kisch said.
He added that the bill would “provide justice to the settlers and to [Palestinian] landowners, in the event that they have been harmed.”
Hotovely said that the intent of the law corresponds with the political stance of the government. There is no connection with this issue and the 2005 demolition of 25 settlements, of which 21 were in Gaza, Hotovely said.
“This isn’t Netanyahu’s fault. He hasn’t taken a decision to uproot homes. We are talking about an issue that can be resolved legally, without World War III. This isn’t a diplomatic issues, it’s a political one,” Hotovely said.
Mandelblit has the legal tools to deal with unauthorized settler construction even without the regulations bill, she said. “In all this it is important to remember that this is the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Those who want to support this initiative do not have to attack Netanyahu. We have a wonderful government.”
She noted that, among other things, it is working to remove the term “occupation” from the international dialogue about Israel.
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) urged those at the gathering to take action to save Amona and to legalize the unauthorized homes in Judea and Samaria. “The Regulations Act must pass the Knesset,” he said. Should that fail and should Amona fall, he said, Netanyahu must approve new building as a compensatory measure as a step toward the final goal, which is “to impose full Israeli law [annexation] on Judea and Samaria,” Glick said.