Outpost bills likely to be delayed

Orlev, Katz believe they have enough votes to pass the bills if Netanyahu does not impose coalition discipline.

Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
A preliminary reading of parliamentary bills to legalize West Bank outposts could be delayed unless Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu allows ministers and deputy ministers to vote their conscience.
MKs Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Ya’acov Katz (National Union) stated their intention to present private member outpost bills to the Knesset plenum this Wednesday.
They believe they have enough votes to pass the bills if Netanyahu does not impose coalition discipline, and instead allows all politicians, including ministers, freedom to vote as they want. The legislation must go through a preliminary reading and three other votes before it becomes law.
Netanyahu has yet to publicly issue instructions to the coalition for the vote.
At the Likud faction meeting the prime minister said that the issue was complex and that he preferred other options outside of legislation.
In the past he has rejected similar attempts to legislate the matter.
According to one source at the meeting, he said that all ideas on that score were welcome. A ministerial forum met on Friday to seek options for the outposts and is likely to meet again in the coming days.
Time is of the essence in this matter, because the High Court of Justice has ordered the state to demolish 30 homes in the Ulpana outpost by July 1 and to evacuate the entire Migron outpost of 50 families by August 1.
According to the court, the homes in both outposts were built without the proper permits on private Palestinian property.
Right-wing politicians believe that legislation is one of the few legal avenues which can avert the destruction of the outpost homes.
The scope of the bills, however, goes beyond Migron and the 30 Ulpana homes. It speaks of authorizing dozens of West Bank outposts, a move which in many cases would transform them into new settlements.
The international community is likely to believe that such authorization would break Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements. Israel thinks that the pledge does not cover already existing communities that lack the proper authorization. However the government has not yet authorized the outposts.
It is for this reason that legislators have turned to the Knesset.
The bills would authorize even those outposts built on private Palestinian property and would provide the landowners with compensation.
At the Likud faction meeting MK Ayoub Kara said that such a move would be difficult, because no Palestinian could willingly accept compensation as an alternative without risking death.
The Palestinian Authority imposes a death sentence on any Palestinian who sells West Bank land to Jews; a move which has complicated authentication of land ownership in the West Bank.