The settlement regulation bill failed
to pass its Knesset vote on Wednesday, as 69 MKs voted against it and only 22 voted in favor. A similar bill by MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) was withdrawn but may be presented to the House again to pressure the government on the matter.
The legislation aimed to prevent the evacuation of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood
and retroactively legalize the settlement, as well as other Jewish outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank.
The settlers were enraged to learn of the vote's result, promising a "tsunami of protests."
"Netanyahu's government has shown its true, disgraceful colors," Amona resident Yehuda Efrat, who heads the settlers' protest tent, told reporters. "The fight is just beginning."
MKs confront each other in plenum (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
After the vote, some 1,000 right-wing activists blocked the entrance to the Knesset building, having walked there from the protest tent they set up outside the Supreme Court. Officers and security guards tried to prevent them from entering the Knesset and several clashes were recorded. Five people were detained.
"Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat, the prime minister and members of the cabinet suddenly came out with the claim that Israel will face international prosecution," the bill's initiator MK Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said.
Representing the coalition's stance, Minister Benny Begin said that the bill would weaken the settlement enterprise instead of strengthening it.
He stressed that the government would continue to promote and expand settlements, but noted that the bill would not hold water and would only harm the settlement enterprise.
Protesters block road in Jerusalem (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Many of the bill's proponents withdrew their initial support and voted against it, largely due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's dismissal threat.
Members of Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu
faction voted against the bill, in line with Netanyahu's instructions, with the exception of David Rotem, who voted in favor, and three MKs who chose not to attend the vote.
Among those who did not attend the vote were Shas
ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias, deputy ministers Yakov Litzman and Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism), Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi); Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud); and deputy ministers Gila Gamliel and Ayoob Kara (Likud).
Eight Likud MKs including Miri Regev, Danny Danon and Yariv Levin endorsed the bill.
Dozens of settlers gathered at Highway 1's entrance to Jerusalem and set tires on fire in an attempt to block the city's main gateway. Police forces dispersed them.
Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of teens blocked a Jerusalem road in protest of the government's intention to evacuate Ulpana. They chanted "A Jew does not expel a Jew" and "Muhammad is dead" and carried signs slamming Netanyahu and his cabinet.
Burning tires on Highway 1 (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Netanyahu had decided to adhere to a High Court ruling ordering the evacuation of five homes and on Tuesday threatened to fire any minister or deputy minister who votes in favor of the bill.
According to the bill, any land owner in the West Bank who did not challenge construction on the land he claimed to own within four years would lose the legal right to do so.
Kobi Nahshoni and Omri Efraim contributed to this report