Netanyahu Delays Discussion of Bill Preventing Eviction of West Bank Outposts

Members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation were supposed to decided whether or not the PM's coalition will back legislation.

The discussion of a bill that would curtail the eviction of settlers from land that is purportedly owned by individual Palestinians was postponed on Sunday at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation were supposed to consider the bill on Sunday and decide whether the coalition will support it.

demolition homes in Migron - Emil Salman - September 5 2011
Emil Salman

The legislation would only allow a military commander to order a settler off land if there is a final court order based on evidence issued by a court authorized to deal with land issues.

The bill's sponsors said they introduced the bill after settlers' homes were demolished at the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Migron, and the Palestinians who claimed to be that land's rightful owners failed to prove actual ownership. The legislation's sponsors include coalition chairman Zeev Elkin (Likud), Yaakov Katz (National Union) and David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).

Members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation were contacted on Saturday by the chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities, Danny Dayan.

"This bill doesn't expropriate private land [and] doesn't retroactively approve [settlement] communities. All told, it provides that courts will only order the demolition of a home after considering the evidence in the case," Dayan said.

Michael Sfard, a lawyer who represented the Peace Now organization in a related court petition, said the true situation is the opposite of what right-wing Knesset members claim.

"The arguments claiming that the Palestinians did not prove their ownership of land on which Migron is situated is a kind of despicable false spin [of the facts] designed to prepare the ground for violating the ruling by the High Court of Justice.

Both the state and the settlers know the evidence for Palestinian ownership, and they received copies proving the [validity of the] ownership documents of at least some of the owners," Sfard said.

Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer said the proposed law would allow anyone to grab land for a permanent settlement and bar an immediate eviction.

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