AG slams Netanyahu for pushing settlement approval ahead of elections

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned that approving this new settlement could impact Israel in the international arena.

September 12, 2019 21:40
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The government must not be allowed to vote to create a new West Bank settlement just two days before the country heads to the polls to vote in a national election, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned on Thursday.

Given that “no vital or urgent need” was presented for the legalization of the Mevo’ot Yericho outpost so close to the election for a prime minister and Knesset members, it is Mandelblit’s opinion that such a governmental decision “cannot be taken” at this time.

Such governmental approvals are rare and have occurred only five times during the last 10 years. Mevo’ot Yericho, located in the Jordan Valley, is home to some 30 families.

Netanyahu had placed the outpost on the agenda to underscore his commitment to annexing the Jordan Valley, should the election result secure him a fourth consecutive term in office.

Mandelblit said the timing makes it seem as if the legalization of the outpost is being done out of electoral considerations, and that the move would likely impact Israel in the international arena.

Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayiani dismissed Mandelblit’s words.

The Attorney-General’s office prevented the government from taking this step earlier and now it is complaining that the move is too close to the elections, he said.

Elhayiani called on Mandelblit to support the historical decision to authorize the outpost.

In a number of interviews this week, Netanyahu said he had wanted to annex the Jordan Valley prior to the election by holding a special Knesset session. Mandelblit had prevented the move by telling him that it was legally problematic and could only be done after the election.

It is also possible for the cabinet to vote to apply sovereignty, but Netanyahu has not discussed that possibility.

Two years earlier, Netanyahu dismissed Mandelblit’s concerns regarding a Knesset drive to retroactively legalize settler homes built on private Palestinian property. He allowed the bill to pass the Knesset, in spite of Mandelblit’s objections. The High Court of Justice is now adjudicating the legality of the law.

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