Netanyahu. Under perssure
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom
MK Zvulun Orlev
Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Yaakov Katz
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Barak. Against the bill
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Knesset to discuss bill to legalize West Bank settlements

Netanyahu arranges two-week freeze of bill aiming to circumvent High Court ruling on Ulpana

The Knesset plenum is set to discuss a bill to legalize West Bank settlements despite an agreement to freeze it for two weeks.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the bill's initiator Mk Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) agreed to freeze promotion of the bill in order to give the government time to settle the issue. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to halt all demolition preparations.


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In response, MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) announced he will put forward a similar bill in what he called was "a matter of principle." However, Katz later announced he would not table the bill. The coalition is slated to compel its members to vote against the bill and give Netanyahu a chance to settle the matter.  


שכונת גבעת האולפנה בבית אל (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


According to Orlev's bill, if a West Bank landowner has failed to contest Jewish construction on his property in court for four years since building began, the built structures would not be cleared.


Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from right-wing ministers to use legislation to circumvent the High Court of Justice and prevent the evacuation of Beit-El's Ulpana neighborhood. The High Court has given the State a July 1 deadline to demolish five structures in the neighborhood.


נשיא העליון במהלך הדיון על הפינוי (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

High Court discussing Ulpana eviction (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Katz and MK Uri Ariel in an attempt to prevent the bill from being put to a vote but no agreement was reached. "The destruction of houses in Ulpana can lead to the destruction of thousands of other homes in Judea and Samaria and this is something the public cannot withstand," Katz said.


Meanwhile Barak voiced his fierce objection to the bill, which he said was "harmful to the State of Israel, the government and the settlement enterprise." The defense minister further added that the bill will be used as a weapon against Israel in the international arena.


"An enlightened state cannot legislate a law to abolish a concrete High Court ruling. The solution must honor the High Court's ruling and strengthen Beit El at the same time."


On Monday, Kadima Chairman and Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz also announced his opposition to the bill and stressed he will not be a part in any effort to circumvent the High Court.


Moran Azulay contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 05.23.12, 11:21
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