Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the site of terror attack near Bet El, December 18, 2018.
(photo credit: TOMER APPELBAUM)
Two bills pushed forward in response to recent terrorism in the West Bank passed preliminary votes in the Knesset on Wednesday.
One will allow the deportation of terrorists’ family members, and the other will set a two-year deadline to legalize 70 West Bank outposts.
Both bills were submitted to the Knesset months ago by Bayit Yehudi MKs but were brought back to the table after last week’s wave of terrorist attacks in the West Bank, which claimed three lives, including that of a three-day-old baby.
Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for deporting terrorists earlier this week, and though he was present in the Knesset during the votes, he skipped both of them. Yesh Atid supported the deportation bill and Yisrael Beytenu supported both bills from the opposition allowing them to pass easily.
MK Bezalel Smotrich’s outpost legalization bill would require the government to provide electricity, water, and municipal services to outposts. The bill does not include a specific list, but it would likely apply to 70 outposts are designated for legalization by a government-appointment committee last year. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided the bill could go past the preliminary vote only if it were changed to apply only to outposts on state land, and not to those on private Palestinian land. The deadline for legalization would be two years from when the bill becomes law.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked railed against the “demonization” of the bill by the Left, which has called the outposts places full of “wild people who fought against IDF soldiers.”
“These young settlements were not born in sin. They did not dispossess Palestinians. Most of them were established as strategic moves coordinated with the State of Israel,” Shaked argued. She thanked Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit for allowing the legalization of more than 2,000 settlement homes – not just in relation to this bill.
However, Shaked added that legal opinions are not enough, turning her barbs to Netanyahu: “There are some government decisions about legalization, and if the prime minister and defense minister will put the system into action like he’s supposed to, we can do everything without passing a law. The Knesset is the sovereign, and it acts when it sees the executive branch is not doing its job.”
Meretz MK Esawi Frej’s speech opposing the bill broke down into a shouting match between lawmakers. When he said the legalization bill allows Israel to “steal from Palestinians,” Likud MK Yoav Kisch shouted back: “The land is ours! You cannot steal what is already yours.”
The Knesset also voted in favor of a bill by Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev to allow the removal of relatives of terrorists – those who murdered or attempted to murder Israelis – from their towns in the West Bank.
Mandelblit strongly opposed the bill.
Three Joint List MKs were removed from the plenum during the debate about the deportation bill, with MK Jamal Zahalka shouting “Racists!” as he was escorted out of the room.
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said, “The whole coalition is acting under pressure from extremists like Smotrich and Yogev.”