Bill would require Knesset OK for future building moratorium

Likud MK submits bill he hopes to pass before end of summer session.

West Bank construction work [illustrative] (photo credit: AP)
West Bank construction work [illustrative]
(photo credit: AP)
Hours after reassuring a Knesset conference on the West Bank housing start moratorium that “the Likud faction will never vote to extend the building freeze,” MK Carmel Shama (Likud) submitted a bill on Monday that would require Knesset approval for any future freeze.
Shama and co-sponsor MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said they would ask that the measure be exempted from any waiting period between readings, and that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to debate government support for the legislation on Sunday.
“There is no chance of the current Knesset approving any proposal” for a continuation of the partial building freeze in West Bank Jewish communities, Shama said. “I hope that the ministerial committee will approve the request for a waiting period exemption so that we can pass the bill before the end of the summer session.”
The effort to push the legislation through the Knesset in the month that remains of the summer session is significant, as the moratorium expires in late September, weeks before the Knesset reconvenes for its winter session.
Ariel and Shama also filed a request to speed up proceedings with House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud), in whom they are likely to find a ready ally, as Levin is one of the most rightleaning members of the Likud Knesset faction.
The bill would forbid freezing building projects in the West Bank that are “owned by an Israeli citizen, company or a company established according to Israeli law, unless permission is granted by the Knesset.”
The sponsors explained that building freezes “prevent the strengthening and natural growth of communities to such an extent as could destroy the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria and that harms the daily life of a large public that chose to reside in the area with the encouragement of Israeli governments.
“Such a weighty and fateful public decision, with so many implications, should be made through a democratic process, and thus MKs who were chosen by the public are the only authority fitting to determine such questions,” the two MKs wrote in the preamble to the bill.
Shama said the measure was intended to “prevent the moratorium from being extended for an additional period” when the current order, which was ratified by a restricted forum of cabinet ministers, expires.
“I would imagine that in advance of September, the pressure will increase on the prime minister, and we thus must create a legislative ‘brake’ in order to prevent an additional freeze,” Shama said.