Settler leaders meeting at site of Givat Assaf shooting attack, December 13, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered more stringent security measures and promised to retroactively legalize thousands of settler homes constructed in the West Bank on Thursday after facing a political backlash over two deadly terrorist attacks this week.
But settler leaders and right-wing politicians were not assuaged, and responded by calling for annexation of Area C of the West Bank and warning the right-wing premier that they would judge him only by his actions.
“If there is no real solution, this government will be in existential danger,” warned Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.
“We also expect a quick and decisive execution of these promises,” the YESHA council said, adding that it would judge the results of Netanyahu’s statements by what happened in the field.
Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz and Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis called on the prime minister to impose sovereignty on Judea and Samaria.
Netanyahu promised to take the following steps.
• Expediting the destruction of terrorists’ homes to within 48 hours after they are apprehended.
• Increasing the administrative detention of Hamas activists in Judea and Samaria, and beefing up the IDF presence there.
• Increasing protection of the roads and the placement of additional checkpoints throughout the West Bank.
• Encirclement of al-Bireh and the revocation of entry permits into Israel for family members of terrorists or those who help them.
The statement also said Netanyahu had decided to regulate the status of thousands of homes in the settlements that were built in “good faith” but whose legal status has not been determined for decades.Netanyahu
also directed the attorney-general to take the legal steps that will enable the building of 82 news homes in Ofra, the site of Sunday’s terrorist attack.
He also pledged to forward the establishment of two new industrial areas, one near Avnei Hefetz, and the other near Betar Illit.
In 2017, the Knesset passed the Settlements Regulation Law that retroactively legalizes some 4,000 homes built in “good faith” in the settlements on privately owned Palestinian land while compensating the Palestine land owners 125% for the land.
The legislation is currently before the High Court. Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has refused to defend the law.
The prime minister’s statement said that regulating the legal status of these homes will enable the building of infrastructure for thousands of residents, such as public buildings, schools and synagogues, the construction of which has been held up for years.
But activists and politicians at a right wing rally outside his Jerusalem home said that Netanyahu’s promises were not enough.
At the rally, Dagan, a member of the Likud central committee said, “We are not willing to settle for more recycled promises.”
Netanyahu’s government is “behaving like the left-wing government of [former prime minister Ehud] Barak just before the [Second] Intifada.”
He demanded the immediate reestablishment of checkpoints across the West Bank, retaliatory steps against the Palestinian Authority, and the establishment of new settlements for each person who is killed.
The central committee of the National Union Party that is part of the Bayit Yehudi faction decided Thursday night that its MKs, Uri Ariel and Bezalel Smotrich, would stop voting with Netanyahu’s coalition unless the party’s demands on Judea and Samaria are met.
Those demands include returning checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria and passing the controversial settlement arrangements bill into law before the so-called Gideon Sa’ar bill that is important to Netanyahu. The arrangements bill will be brought to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday, in what will be a key test for Netanyahu’s government and his 61-MK coalition.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked publicized a legal opinion by Mandelblit late Thursday which may lay the groundwork for legalizing around 2,000 Jewish residential units in the West Bank.
The legal opinion made reference to moving forward with expedited proceedings in special military West Bank committees to recognize Jews’ rights in a variety of circumstances over land where to date their rights were considered disputed or unauthorized by the government.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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