Israeli Rightist MKs to Launch Raft of Settlement Construction Bills

Bill would legalize Jewish construction on privately-owned Palestinian land at Migron and other outposts.

Right-wing MKs are expected to introduce a number of bills supporting construction in West Bank settlements and unauthorized outposts when the Knesset returns from its spring recess in about two weeks.

Among anticipated legislation is a bill that would legalize Jewish construction on privately-owned Palestinian land at Migron and other outposts. The Knesset will hold a special session on Wednesday, when MKs from the right will seek Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's support for the bill.

Pierre Terdjman / BauBau

The special session was scheduled after MK Danny Danon (Likud ) collected the signatures of 25 MKs. The effort follows a decision by the High Court of Justice to void a compromise worked out between the government and Migron's residents on their relocation, as well as a decision by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to order the evacuation of Jews from the so-called Machpela House in Hebron.

"The High Court is trying to prevent the government from carrying out its job," Danon said. "We are trying to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and will not accept another court ruling like the one handed down on Migron, or another eviction like Machpela House."

Instead of evicting the settlers, the proposed law would provide compensation to Palestinian owners of land where Jewish communities in the West Bank have built homes to dozens of families. If passed, the legislation would be expected to legalize dozens of outposts. A vote on the bill would only come after the Knesset reconvenes in regular session.

At that time, another bill - which would require the defense minister to allow expanded construction in settlements to accommodate natural population growth - is also expected to be introduced.

Another piece of legislation would set the hours of the day during which settlers can be evicted from their homes pursuant to demolition orders. It would bar demolitions between 6 P.M. and 8 A.M., and require that the residents be allowed to remove their possessions.

With the prospect of possible Knesset elections in the offing, the bills' sponsors are expected to try to convince coalition MKs to support the legislation, even though some of the measures have previously been rejected by the government.

The legislation permitting settlement construction to accommodate natural population growth is being spearheaded by Yaakov Katz (National Union ) and would empower the housing and construction minister to issue construction permits on an annual basis in ten settlements, including Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, Modi'in Ilit and Kiryat Arba.

The bill would curb the defense minister's authority to withhold consent. Katz acknowledged that the bill is directed at Barak, noting that since the expiration of the 2010 government-approved construction freeze, Barak has failed to approve a single construction tender. Katz introduced similar legislation recently, but withdrew it in the face of coalition opposition.