Knesset hawks prepare for showdown on controversial outpost bill

Coalition chairman David Bitan obtained Kulanu’s support for the bill in its preliminary reading last Wednesday by promising that clauses seen as defying the court would be removed.

November 22, 2016 01:01
2 minute read.

Amona. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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The Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus held an emergency meeting with three legal experts on Monday to prepare the Knesset’s most hawkish MKs to defend the controversial outpost bill in upcoming deliberations.

The Knesset House Committee approved the formation of a special joint panel of the Law, Constitution and Justice and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees led by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) to work on the bill, which is to hold its first meeting Tuesday morning.

Some in the coalition have nicknamed it “the committee to circumvent Bennie Begin,” after the Likud MK who voted against the legislation, calling it the “theft bill.” The special committee allows the coalition to have a majority in favor of the bill without having to rely on Begin, a member of the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee.

The main challenge of the bill’s defenders will be to explain why it does not harm the Supreme Court.

Coalition chairman David Bitan obtained Kulanu’s support for the bill in its preliminary reading last Wednesday by promising that clauses seen as defying the court would be removed.

While no Kulanu representatives attended the meeting, the heads of the caucus said they would make sure the legal experts explain their findings privately to the heads of Kulanu in order to ensure the advancement of the bill, which would allow the state to compensate Palestinians for their land rather than evacuate the settlers who built upon it illegally.

In a setback for the bill, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told his Yisrael Beytenu faction that the legislation harms efforts to settle Judea and Samaria by embroiling it in unnecessary legal fights and with poor timing. He suggested waiting for the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump and then talking to the new administration about a new strategy for the West Bank.

He also complained that the bill would not help residents of the Amona outpost, who are due to be evacuated next month and the outpost demolished.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in response to a question in the plenum that he hopes the bill will pass.

“This is a moral and just bill. There is no reason to evacuate people when generous compensation can be paid to the landowners,” he said.

Erdan also expressed hope that the violence seen as the Border Police evacuated settlers from Amona in 2006 will not happen again.

“I have no doubt that security forces and the police will do their job if the High Court’s decision needs to be implemented,” he stated. “I also know the residents of Amona, and I know most are law-abiding citizens that will not lift a hand against a soldier or a police officer, so I don’t expect to see photos in the style of what happened 10 years ago.”

Still, he said, the police is “ready for any possibility.”

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