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A bill to enable illegal settlement outposts to remain where they are by compensating Palestinian landowners was pulled off the Knesset agenda yesterday by its sponsor, who prefers to wait until the fate of the Migron outpost is decided.

MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ) said he wanted to see how the ongoing negotiations between the residents of Migron and Minister Benny Begin, who is representing the government on this issue, would play out.

Begin and the outpost residents have been trying to hammer out an agreement that would move the community off the Palestinian-owned land it occupies to a nearby area that is state land. Orlev said, however, that the bill is still relevant to other outposts, such as the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, and will undoubtedly have to be legislated in the future.

The coalition and opposition parties had been busy in recent days trying to recruit MKs for the vote on the bill's preliminary reading, on the assumption that attendance would be a crucial factor in whether it would pass.

The bill states that if a Jewish residential neighborhood had been built on land whose legal owners didn't challenge the construction within four years, the houses would not be evacuated. Instead, the bill allows for the courts to set compensation for the owners, either in cash or in alternate land nearby of equal value. In the bill's explanatory notes, Orlev and the 19 other MKs signed on the bill state that this process would only apply to communities of at least 20 families.

"We must balance between the interests of the owners, who must be fully compensated, and the public interest of avoiding the destruction of communities that were built innocently, without knowing that privately owned land was involved," the MKs state.