The legislation, which was meant to circumvent the High Court's ruling and prevent the eviction of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood, was voted down 69:22.
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"Israel is a law-abiding democracy. As the prime minister, I am obligated to both adhere to the High Court's orders and maintain the settlement movement. That is not mutually exclusive," Netanyahu told reporters.
"Passing this bill would have hurt Beit El. The plan I outlined – relocating the disputed homes, bolstering the settlement movement and providing legal protection against legal precedents – reinforces the settlement movement."
The vote (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Nevertheless, this is not an easy day. The decision to relocate homes is never an easy one, even when only five homes are involved. This is not something the government relishes doing, but the court has rendered its ruling and we must respect it.
"Those who think the legal system was used to ram the settlement movement are wrong," he continued. "Beit El is not getting smaller – it's getting bigger. Beit El will be expanded, with 300 new families joining it."
Netanyahu added: "I have unequivocal legal opinions that say that the verdict did not set any precedent and will not affect other cases."
He reiterated his intention to head a new ministerial committee that would deal with settlement affairs, and expressed his gratitude for the ministers' support, saying that they "demonstrated great responsibility at a tough moment. Israel has a responsible leadership.
"To my brothers and sisters in the settlement movement – I understand your pain. I share it. I want to assure you – no other government would ever support the settlement movement more than the government I am leading. No other government has ever had to withstand so much pressure to hinder the settlement movement.
"We are operating in very complex political, security and legal realities," he concluded. "We have to be able to navigate these realities wisely and responsibly… and we will continue to bolster both the settlement movement and democracy in Israel."
The High Court's ruling met with fierce objection from the Right, forcing the prime minister, who opposed the bill, to impose party discipline to secure the vote. He even threatened to dismiss any minister who breached party lines.
Settlers were enraged to learn of the vote's result, promising a "tsunami of protests." Several clashes were noted outside the Knesset Plaza on Highway 1's entrance to Jerusalem. Five right-wing activists were arrested.
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