PM to seek 30-day delay of Amona evacuation from High Court
After talks between Netanyahu and Bennett reach an impasse over resolving the Amona crisis and the Regulation Bill, PM tells party leaders the request will be justified on grounds of need to build structures for residents being removed from the outpost; parties also agree to delay bill's first Knesset reading from Monday to Wednesday as Kahlon's support far from a sure bet.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a forum of coalition party leaders on Sunday afternoon that the state would ask the High Court of Justice to delay the evacuation Amona by 30 days to allow time for the establishment of structures to absorb the outpost's residents.
During the conference, it was also decided that the the Regulation Bill, which aims to legalize outposts built on privately-owned Palestinian land, would be postponed for its first Knesset reading and vote from Monday to Wednesday.
The development comes a day after a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi Leader Naftali Bennett took place on Saturday night during which the two discussed the advancement of the Regulation Bill and possible solutions to the Amona crisis.
The meeting, which lasted more than four hours, aimed to solve the problem which threatens to erode the coalition's stability as it searches for a solution ahead of the bill’s first Knesset reading and vote.
During the discussion on the intimately related issues, about which the two have locked horns for weeks, a number of potential options were explored to settle the Amona crisis, with its court-ordered evacuation fast approaching despite the government’s request for its posponement. However, the talks resulted in no final agreement and the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement promising that the issue would be discussed on Sunday.
To that end, Netanyahu told ministers during his opening remarks at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that work is still underway to find a practical solution to Amona which would ensure both the protection of settlements while upholding the authority of the courts.
“We are working many hours to find a responsible solution to the matter of Amona and for similar cases for the future. We are working to arrive at an agreed upon solution,” he said. “I expect from all the ministers and MKs to respect it. We are operating cautiously and quietly to guard both the communities (in the West Bank) and the courts.”
Despite the Regulation Bill receiving approval in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in mid-November and passing its preliminary reading in the Knesset shortly thereafter by a 58-50 majority ruptures resurfaced after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon stated his refusal to lend support to the bill in its current format and Bayit Yehudi’s insistence that it not be brought to the vote in the absence of a solution to Amona.
Coalition officials said Saturday night that heavy pressure is being exerted on the Bayit Yehudi party to forfeit its insistence that Clause 7 remain in the draft bill since it demands a retroactive solution to a problem on which the courts already ruled and therefore potentially constitutes an assault on its authority. In the meantime, Bennett has shown no willingness to budge.
“There is no agreement regarding the Regulation Bill for communities in Judea and Samaria and Amona,” Bennett tweeted on Saturday night. “We expect the Regulation Bill to pass the Knesset plenum on Monday as required by the coalition agreement.”
Despite having voted for the bill in the preliminary reading, Kahlon’s position stems fromt of his pre-stated insistence that the High Court of Justice’s decision not be undermined—a condition upon which his support hinged. Clause 7 therefore, represents a major stumbling block.
In accordance with the demand that assurance be given to this effect, Coalition Chairman David Bitan, one of the chief architects of the proposed bill announced publicly: “As chairman of the coalition I declare that the legislative process will not harm the High Court of Justice.” With this statement the coalition managed to secure Kahlon’s blessing, paving the way for its passing in its preliminary reading.