(photo credit: ITZIK EDRI/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Experts debated whether or not a bill proposed to authorize outposts could be considered legal Tuesday, at the first meeting of a special Knesset committee to work on the legislation.
The bill, which passed a preliminary vote last Wednesday, would allow the state to compensate Palestinians who have a claim to land on which an outpost is built, rather than to demolish the outpost.
The joint committee of Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees opened the proceedings with an overview by Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon, who pointed to problems with the bill.
“The International Criminal Court opened an investigation of the situation in the West Bank,” Yinon began. “MKs need to decide if this bill improves or worsens Israel’s situation.”
Yinon explained that the standard set by the High Court of Justice for legal settlements in the West Bank is that they are built on state land.
“Any other arrangement could undermine the legal status of all settlements,” he warned.
In addition, Yinon said monetary compensation for the loss of land does not fit Israeli legal cost-benefit standards.
Anat Assif of the Justice Ministry read Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s position to the MKs: “There is no place to promote this bill because of its severe unconstitutionality.”
On the other side was Dr. Uriel Arnon, an attorney who represented some of the residents of Amona, an outpost slated for demolition on December 25.
According to Arnon, the Supreme Court ruling on the disengagement in Gaza stated that it is legal to pass laws that apply to the West Bank, and that the specific system in dealing with land disputes is not under the purview of international law.
Yossi Fuchs, chairman of the right-wing Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, said that existing laws allow state expropriation of land even when private ownership is proven, and that, in any case, no one proved ownership of Amona.
“The state admitted that it is private land, but doesn’t know whose. In addition, unlike in regular expropriation, the commander of the area does not allow anyone to use the land...so whoever will be recognized as owner will receive compensation for something he will never be able to use,” Fuchs stated.
Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) was in favor of the bill, saying it is at the heart of democracy.
“After 50 years [since the Six Day War], the legislature must deal with 450,000 of our emissaries whose status is in the air,” Slomiansky said. “We want a strong and stable judiciary, just like we want a strong and stable legislature, and we do not want to harm either one.”
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), however, spoke out strongly against the bill, saying it is an illegal attempt to annex the West Bank.
“The result will be a binational state that will not be democratic.
The Palestinians will demand the right to vote in the Knesset and will go en masse to the voting booth – that is the real danger,” she said.
Livni said the bill gives the boycott Israel movement tools to use against Israel and endangers IDF soldiers in international courts.
The MK also called for there to be a closed-door meeting about what the bill means for current proceedings at the ICC.
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