Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) from his office Saturday night, during late-night negotiations on a bill that would allow the government to avoid demolishing settlement homes on private Palestinian land.When Smotrich, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, arrived at the meeting between Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, the prime minister said, referring to a recent interview with Haaretz: “You said I’m not right-wing and not trustworthy, so don’t come here.” In the same interview, Smotrich said that if Netanyahu were in charge in 1948, the State of Israel would not have been established.Smotrich immediately left the meeting when Netanyahu asked him to.The late-night talks between Bennett and Netanyahu bore no fruit.On Sunday morning, Smotrich said that he was prepared to apologize if Netanyahu was insulted by what he said.“I came late and the prime minister asked me not to come in. As I understand, he didn’t like a few things I said,” Smotrich told Army Radio. “I have great respect for the prime minister. I’m young in this system. On the one hand, I have a lot of respect for the prime minister, but I have a great ideological dispute with him.”Smotrich said the reason the settlement bill has not moved forward is because of international pressure and Netanyahu’s “fear of [US President Barack] Obama’s reaction.”The Bayit Yehudi MK said that his party is committed to helping Amona, but that they will not insist on passing the bill if another solution is found.“If the prime minister and his people present us a finished, serious outline, we will adopt it,” he stated.The settlement bill would allow the state to compensate the Palestinian landowners on whose property settler homes were built. It would be applied to all cases in which construction occurred with some form of approval from the state, whether it was a ministry grant, the paving of roads, or the hookup of utilities.According to Peace Now, the bill would legalize 3,921 homes on private Palestinian property located in West Bank settlements and 797 in outposts.Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) is still working on whipping up a majority for a planned Monday vote, after the bill was taken off the agenda on Wednesday because the coalition did not have enough members in its favor.Kulanu refuses to vote for the bill as long as it contains what has become known as the “Amona article,”’ which says that the legislation would be used to overturn longstanding High Court of Justice rulings. Thus, if it passes into law, it could prevent the outpost from being demolished by December 25.
Bayit Yehudi insists that the article remain in the bill. The current draft leaves an opening for the special committee on the bill to continue discussing whether the article stays or not and to make a decision before its second and third (final) readings.
Netanyahu: The government supports the settlements in any time