Israeli Bill Would Legalize Settlers' Land Grabs of Private Palestinian Land

Habayit Hayehudi says the legislation is part of its preparations to possibly leave the governing coalition because of Likud’s attempts to bring in Zionist Union.

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Settlement construction in the West Bank, June 2016.
Settlement construction in the West Bank, June 2016.Credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker says her party will try once again to push through a bill to legalize the expropriation of private Palestinian land in West Bank settlements thereby legalizing structures already built there.

The proposal, however, does not appear to have great chances for success. In October, MK Yoav Kish (Likud) withdrew a similar bill amid fears of criticism abroad as violence ramped up between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank. During his previous term, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a similar proposal, saying it could harm Israel’s interests.

But now the head of Habayit Hayehudi in the Knesset, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, is expected to submit her own version of the bill.

“The legalization of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is the only way to solve the problematic nature of the thousands of homes for example in the settlement of Amona that were built deliberately and with the encouragement of the Israeli government over several decades,” Moalem said.

“The government’s harassment of the settlers demolishing their homes, exposing them to lawsuits and portraying them as lawless is unjustified. The bill proposes solutions that were implemented by the government in the past under similar circumstances.”

Shuli Moalem addressing journalists at Neve Daniel scenic lookout Credit: Judy Maltz

Habayit Hayehudi said over the weekend that the step was part of its preparations for possibly leaving the governing coalition; Netanyahu is considering bringing in the main opposition party, Zionist Union.

Under the bill, Palestinian landowners would receive alternative land and monetary compensation but would not be able to oppose the expropriation. According to a report by right-wing group Regavim that was sent to MKs last month, 2,026 structures in the settlements are built on private Palestinian land.